Imam Noorur Barkati of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan Masjid is known for his controversial fatwas.
A gang of around 20 men -- allegedly led by the son of a controversial Kolkata Imam who was recently in the eye of a storm over his use of a red beacon -- tried to storm the office of an Urdu newspaper yesterday to protest against its editorials and articles critical of the cleric.
While Imam Noorur Barkati of the Tipu Sultan Masjid, located in the heart of Kolkata, is close to Mamata Banerjee and has often shared stage space with her, the newspaper's editor is Trinamool Rajya Sabha lawmaker Nadimul Haq. His wife Farah Haq, who was present during the attack, has filed a police complaint.
Trouble erupted around 10 on Monday night. The newspaper, Akbar e Mashriq, runs out of a building in Kolkata's Park Circus area which also has Mr Haq's home and the office. According to Mr Haq, who was not on the premises at the time, the men rushed into the building, went to the floor housing the office and home, threatened the employees and his family.
In her complaint, Mrs Haq said Imam Barkati's son Khalid was with the intruders. "My mother-in-law, my daughter and I... We were terrorised and traumatised. So were the employees," she said. Mr Haq said the men finally left after the locals heard the ruckus and came investigate.
Imam Barkati, who is known for his controversial comments, had recently refused to remove red beacon from his car despite a Central government order banning its use. He claimed he was authorized to use the red light since the British era and by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Despite public outrage and protests, he finally removed the beacon when Ms Banerjee sent a minister to his house, urging him to avoid controversy on the issue.
The Imam has been known for his controversial fatwas, or religious decrees. Soon after demonetisation, he offered Rs. 25 lakh to anyone who blackened the prime minister's face.
A few days later, he issued another fatwa, this time to Muslims in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, ordering them not to vote for the BJP.
His political activities had triggered a show-cause notice from the Prince Ghulam Mohammed Shah Waqf Estate - one of the two trusts that manage the properties of Tipu Sultan's descendants. The Imam had claimed the person sending the show-cause notice had no authority to do so. "I think the RSS has infiltrated the Tipu Sultan committee," he said. Now, there is speculation that he may be removed from the job.