Kolkata: Controversial Kolkata cleric Barkati said on Friday he will remove the red beacon atop his car if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other minister scrapped their security arrangements.
Barkati, the imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan Mosque, stirred a controversy this week when he refused to comply with a central government order to remove red beacons atop all cars, saying the British had permitted its use.
“Let the prime minister and his cabinet members give up their security including black cat commandoes, and other privileges such as flying in helicopters, and I will give up my red beacon,” a defiant Barkati told the media.
The imam reiterated that chief minister Mamata Banerjee didn’t ask him to take the beacon off. A police complaint was lodged against him late on Thursday night, demanding his arrest.
This was the second police complaint against the imam, who flaunts his proximity to Mamata Banerjee since January. On January 8, a complaint was lodged against the controversial cleric demanding his arrest after he slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and issued a fatwa against the BJP leader.
The imam described the police complaints against him as ‘awards’ for him. “The RSS are trying to create a divide between the Hindus and Muslims. If RSS members are so brave they should go the borders and fight,” Barkati remarked.
He also said that if he were given the charge of the armed forces, he would give a fitting reply to Pakistan. “Make me the general and I will show how to fight the enemies of the country. We know how to fight,” Barkati said.
Reacting to CPI(M)’s jibe that his statement was actually helping RSS to spread its tentacles in West Bengal, Barkati said, “First let the Left parties put up a fight against RSS. They day they will do so, I will shut my mouth”.
Asked whether he had a word with the chief minister on the police complaint filed against him, Barkati said he did not feel it necessary to speak to her on every issue.
Barkati is better known as the ‘fatwa imam’ for issuing fatwas against personalities ranging from Taslima Nasreen to Narendra Modi. Other prominent names to have drawn his ire include author Salman Rushdie, Bangladesh-born writer Taslima Nasreen and Canadian columnist Tarek Fateh. The exiled Bangladeshi author, in fact, had three fatwas issued against her — once in 2004 for her ‘anti-Islamic’ comments, then in 2006 and again in 2007. With each fatwa, Barkati hiked the bounty on her head