Two days after openly defying the Centre’s order and stating that he would keep using the red beacon on his vehicle, Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, on Saturday claimed that he has removed the beacon from his car.
“I have removed the beacon,” a visibly annoyed Barkati told the reporters.
Earlier in the day, the state Mass Education Extension & Library Services Minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury termed Barkati as an RSS agent for “providing ammunition to the RSS” by constantly making controversial statements and demanded that the Muslim cleric should go to Pakistan.
“We are Indians. If an Indian citizen sides with Pakistan then he should go to Pakistan,” Chowdhury said at a press conference on Saturday evening.
Reacting to the allegations, Barkati called the state minister both a “traitor” and “an RSS agent” and accused Chowdhury of creating a divide between the Hindus and Muslims.
“He is a traitor and an RSS agent himself. He should remove the red beacon from his car first. He is trying to create a divide between the Hindus and Muslims in the state,” the cleric retorted.
Barkati had openly claimed that he would not follow the Centre’s order of removing the red beacon two days ago and indicated that he has the consent of state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the matter.
“I have been using this for many years and would continue to do so. I do not bother about the Centre’s rule. In the state, we follow the rule of the state,” Barkati said on Thursday.
“Mamata Banerjee has told me to keep using the beacon. I keep talking to her every now and then,” he claimed.
Protesting against his actions, a city-based NGO on Friday lodged police complaints against Barkati at several police stations including Topsia and Garihat for violating the Centre’s rule and demeaning the Indian constitution.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha supporters demonstrated in central Kolkata demanding Barkati’s immediate arrest. Similar protests were held in Howrah with BJP supporters burning his effigy.
The Centre, seeking to put an end to ‘VIP culture’, had decided that red beacons would be removed from all vehicles, including that of Prime Minister from May 1.