The controversial Shahi Imam of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan mosque, Noor-ur Rahman Barkati, is a troubled man these days. Days after making "anti-India" remarks, Barkati has been reportedly sacked by the mosque's trust.
What did Barkati say?
The list of Barkati's objectionable and highly controversial statements is a long one. It includes hounding author Taslima Nasreen out of Bengal, issuing fatwa against PM Modi and asking a BJP leader be stoned for a remark.
But the mosque's trust seems to have lost patience with him after his latest salvo - a threat of a ‘jihad’ if India is declared a Hindu state. It comes close on the heels of Barkati calling those who chant 'Jai Shri Ram' as "hijras".
But, Barkati is unrelenting. He is neither ready to give up the post of Imam nor ready to apologise for his "jihad" remarks.
ScoopWhoop News tried to talk to him to hear his defense. Barkati directed us to his son Sayyed Mohommad Khalid who did all the talking on behalf of his father.
Barkati had recently said, "Those who chant Jai Sri Ram outside Mosques are hijras. It is the work of hijras. I do not know how long Muslims will keep quiet."
How does he justify these remarks?
"Protest against this statement is intolerance," offered Khalid. "Statements by BJP and RSS leaders are even more provocative but no action has ever been taken against them. Obviously, it's their time as they are in power now," he said.
Khalid went on to add, "All Barkati said was that RSS goons can shout Jai Shri Ram across the nation but not near our masjid. This is because they raise such slogans only to provoke us. And when they do it, they are obviously acting as 'hijras'."
"Moreover, a few days ago these RSS and BJP people called Mamata Banerjee as 'hijra' too. We just answered back."
Barkati had recently come under fire for refusing to give up on laal-batti. How come he continues to use it despite it being illegal?
Khalid said, "We haven't received any legal notice against it. How do we know anything is illegal till we get a legal notice? Till date, nobody has prohibited us from using it. Not even the chief minister of the state [Mamata Banerjee]."
While defending red beacon, Barkati had said he had permission from Mamta Banerjee. How much support he enjoys from government?
"Mamata Banerjee is with us, even before her party formed," said Khalid. But our statement on association with her has been misinterpreted. When I say she is with us, it is not in context of using red beacon."
While the trust that runs the board has sacked him, he is refusing to step down. Why?
“Yes, he is and will continue to refuse it. He will continue to serve as Shahi Imam because it was his walid (father) who had appointed him to the post."
Khalid added, "We have received the notice of termination by the board and we will soon respond to that."
Finally, how does he defend his statement that if India becomes a Hindu nation, he will wage a jihad against India?
Khalid said, "All he meant was that if India becomes a Hindu nation and Muslims barred from pursuing their faith with basic tenets like namaaz and roza, we will definitely start a protest against the government."