West Bengal minister and ruling Trinamool Congress’ prominent minority face Siddiqullah Chowdhury on Saturday described Moulana Syed Noorur Rahman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque here, as an “RSS agent”. Substantiating his contention, Chowdhury said that Barkati was giving ammunition to the Sangh Parivar by threatening to wage jihad and making other controversial comments.
“Barkati is an RSS agent. He is providing ammunition to the RSS by making such comments,” said Chowdhury, who also heads the state unit of the Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind minority organisation. As for Barkati’s comments regarding “fighting for Pakistan”, Chowdhury stated in a media release: “We are Indians. If an Indian citizen sides with Pakistan then he should go to Pakistan.”
In a series of remarks at a press conferences, Barkati had warned of a jihad if India was declared a “Hindu Rashtra”, and also refused to take off the red beacon from his car, saying the privilege was granted to the Shahi Imam by the British government. He had also drawn flak for commenting that Muslims would “fight for Pakistan” if India became a Hindu state.
Chowdhury, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Mass Education Extension & Library Services, slammed Barkati for refusing to remove the red beacon despite the central government order. Expressing concern over Barkati’s stand, he said: “There is no provision for an Imam to use a red beacon.”
“Barkati’s objective is to secure media space. Such behaviour does not suit the post of an Imam. He should quit as Imam,” the minister demanded. However, Chowdhury also took the media to task for giving “undue publicity to Barkati” by carrying such comments.