British Gave Me Right To Use Lal Batti, Claims Bengal's 'Fatwa Cleric'

The Imam claims that he has Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's go-ahead to keep the beacon.

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British Gave Me Right To Use Lal Batti, Claims Bengal's 'Fatwa Cleric'

Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati says he is entitled to the privilege.

Kolkata:  Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned red beacons or lal battis across the country, one man says no power can make him drop it. "I have the permission of the British government," says the chief cleric of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan mosque, Noor Ul Barkati.

The cleric says he is entitled to a privilege that has been passed down since the British ruled India. A police complain has been filed against him

"The Indian government has to make its own law, which it hasn't. I have a permission of the British government as beacons have been used since British time," says Imam Barkati.

Last month, PM Modi banned red and blue beacons, without exception, and decided that these could be used only by vehicles used by emergency services. One of the main reasons behind the ban is that because of its misuse, by politicians and those in power, the lal batti has come to symbolize VIP arrogance

In his monthly radio show, the Prime Minister underlined that the ban was necessary to end the VIP culture and added, "new India is not about VIPs, But EPI (Every Person is Important)".

The Imam claims that he has Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's go-ahead to keep the beacon.

The Tipu Sultan mosque is among the most prominent in the Bengal capital, and is in the heart of the city's business district.

Imam Barkati is notoriously prone to announcing fatwas or diktats and is also known for his bizarre pronouncements. Recently, he put out a fatwa against PM Modi in protest against the decision to ban high value 500 and 1,000 rupee notes suddenly. He has also issued a fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

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