Kolkata: Controversial imam maulana Noor-ur-Rahman Barkati was on Wednesday removed as the head cleric of the prominent Tipu Sultan mosque in Kolkata by the wakf trustee board for making “anti-national" statements.
“We have sent him a notice of termination and he has been asked to vacate the office room allotted to him. We have asked his deputy to conduct prayers and we will appoint a new imam very soon," Prince Gholam Ahmed Wakf Estate trustee Arif Ahmed told reporters.
“We have removed him as the imam of the mosque for his anti-national statements. We never expect an imam, who is a religious person, to cross his line and misuse his post," he said. Ahmed denied that there was any political pressure to remove Barkati and said the cleric had been issued show cause notice earlier also for his objectionable speeches.
Barkati had been embroiled in a controversy last week when he refused to remove the red beacon on his vehicle, saying it was his right to use it. “I am a religious leader and I have been using the red beacon for decades. I do not follow the orders of the Centre. Who are they to order me? In Bengal, only the orders of the state government are effective. I will use the red beacon," he had asserted.
Ahmed said, “Barkati had shown disrespect to our national leaders and he was using the mosque for political purpose and for his own financial gains." “He was cautioned earlier for his activities. Recently, he was served a show-cause notice for his speeches to incite people," he said.
Asked if Barkati was removed due to political pressure, Ahmed said, “There was no such pressure". On what steps the board would take in the event of Barkati refusing to step down as the Shahi Imam, he said, “In that case we will go for legal action".