By A Newsman
Kolkata, 13 May: AFTER creating much of a political storm, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, Moulana Noor Ur Rehman Barkati, has at last taken off the red beacon from his car.
The controversial Muslim cleric, who is close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, removed the red beacon today evening. The development came after state urban development minister Firhad Hakim went to his house and conveyed that the Chief Minister wants Barkati to give up the beacon.
Hakim was accompanied by some police personnel but on getting the message, Barkati made his men to take off the red beacon. Minister Hakim said that he hoped the controversy would now be put to rest for good.
“A large number of people in the country are facing issues like food and livelihood. Let us discuss such serious issues and not drag the insignificant of a red beacon any further,” he said.
The media on 9 May highlighted that despite the Union Cabinet having banned use of red beacon for all VVIPS including the President and the Prime Minister with effect from 1 May, Bakrati was moving about Kolkata flashing red beacon in his Mahindra luxury car.
Asked how he could use red beacon despite the ban, Barkati had maintained that the permission for this was granted to the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque by the British government before Independence and that he was not bound to follow what the Union Cabinet says.
He had also claimed that he had Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked him to continue using the red beacon.
The comments created a furore in Kolkata and BJP was quick to jump into the scene holding protests demanding the arrest of Barkati. The managing board of Tipu Sultan Mosque also distanced themselves from the Imam’s use of red beacon.
With the issue gradually sending out the signal that Trinamool government in the state was encouraging flouting of norms by the Muslim cleric, Mamata Banerjee finally intervened today through her emissary Firhad Hakim.