On Saturday, the 7th of January in Kolkata, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, Maulana Syed Mohammad Nurur Rehman Barkat, did the unthinkable when in a meeting organised and chaired by the ruling party MP (TMC) Idris Ali, issued a fatwa against Prime Minister Modi for the demonetization move, which seemed to have not only hurt Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, but also the hardliner extremists who until then had a free run because of the free flowing currency from either side of the borders.
This situation reminds me of the recent events, which emboldened the one sided stand that – ‘ we have all the rights in the world to insult you, your country and your religion but if you criticize me, then it is oppression of minority”. The above line holds true for each and every time some one tried to critisize the liberal (often also a Islamic apologist), who hides in his den almost instantly, when an incidents like the Danish cartoon, Charlie Hebdo or the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Istanbul.
Drawing back to the mis-ruled state of West Bengal, the imam threw allegations sitting inside the prestigious Kolkata press club, accusing PM Modi for fooling the people his demonetization (remonetisation) scheme. To quote him, “Modi is bluffing the society and the innocent people of the country through demonetization and nobody wants him to continue as the Prime Minister,” All of this happening with the elected representative of the state (by the rules laid down in the constitution) sitting right beside the Imam.
The fatwa (a religious sermon) offered a reward of Rs. 25 Lacs to anyone who, “cut off Narendra Modi’s beard, shave his head and smear him with black ink” indirectly inciting people to attack the Prime Minister of India, compromise his security so openly.
All this being said and done, in the name of Freedom of speech under Art.19 of the Constitution of India. The fatwa comes at a time, when the situation of communal peace/(dis) harmony is at its worst in West Bengal . Preceding this incident, the periphery of the state has been simmering with non-stop communal riots being waged by the extremist Muslims in Dhulagarh and Malda.
What is more interesting is, the Imam who issued the fatwa against PM Modi, also issued a fatwa against journalist and author Tarek Fatah, famous for his critical approach against the obsolete Islamic practices. Threatening Fatah on live television, the imam out of nowhere stated that he (Fatah) would be beheaded. To give you a backdrop on the sequence of events, Mr Fatah had invited Imam Nurur Rehman Barkat, along with a few other “Islamic scholars” to discuss the problems plaguing Islam in India and the anachronistic mindset plaguing the Muslims in the nation.
These 2 instances and the riots of Malda and Dhulagarh bring us to our point of contention, and that is, whether these religious leaders under the purview of law or are they special beings who command a separate law by which they would be governed. The judiciary, which pro-actively bans an ancient festival like Jalikattu for being cruel towards animals, takes a backseat when it comes to persecuting these pests who claim to be the guardians of Islam in India. Even the NGOs and media have gone hammer and tongs on Jalikattu, without understanding the sport where the animal is prayed to, these same people not only go into hiding with it comes to the matter of Beef-ban or banning murder of goats or Turkeys but pro-actively will demand to have mutton or beef or turkey meat on particular days.
Kamlesh Tiwari who made derogatory comments about the Prophet is yet to see the sun, languishing in Jail for his comments, but people like Owaisi and this Imam Barkat do as they please without the fear of being held responsible for being anti-national or dividing the country on religious lines. Just imagine, had a thing been said by a certain Sakshi Maharaj or by Uma Bharti, how would have the liberals reacted then.
For journalists, killing of Akhlaq and demolition of Babri is prime time news fodder enough to last them for a month, but the burning down of houses in Dhulagarh or the open threats of decapitating and shaving off someone’s head are side-columns to be justified for.
In spite of the strong protest launched by the W. Bengal BJP cadre to arrest this controversial hatemonger, the CM is yet to take any action against him. The sympathisers of such extremists are the very same liberals who cry intolerance inside JNU and Jadhavpur Campuses, but go in hiding when such a erratic statement is made by a religious leader in the presence of a member of Parliament.
Bengal over the years, under the CPM and TMC rule has turned into a hardcore Islamic hub, with extremists having set their base firmly, time will tell if W. Bengal will turn into a ISIS stronghold in India or will it have its own streak of extremism which would seek to compete with the likes of Daesh and ISIS.
For the SC or the Calcutta HC, it is an open and shut case of sedition, the Imam has clearly crossed the line on the freedom of speech granted to him under Article.19 and is clearly liable for the punishment under Section 124-A of the IPC. The mal-governance, appeasement politics, religious hatered in West Bengal has reached a tipping point, and before another untowards incidence , the SC must take note and suo-moto action.
From the arrest of Aseem Trivedi to that of Prof. Ambikesh Mahapatra, Mamata has shown her tyrannical side to the world on more than one occasion, but her silence on this extremist is unsettling. For today, the situation seems grim, with the CM herself chasing her critics like a rabid dog (only an inference, not comparing the CM with a dog), and her lieutenants running around like headless chickens, the beginning of the end of Mamata seems to have set its clock. Time is ticking, and so are her chances of gaining back control over her masses.