Wakf Board turns battleground between Sultan Ahmed and Imam Barkati

Shahi Imam calls TMC MP, an RSS agent, while Ahmed says state will be apprised of situation
Report by: 
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
Kolkata
28 Feb 2017

It's Trinamool Congress versus Trinamool Congress at the state's Wakf Board. The board, a body that controls and manages wakf property, which has long been rocked by allegations of corruption--the CID of the state police has been looking into some of them for almost the past five years--has now been witness to a fierce feud between two prominent members of the Board, party MP Sultan Ahmed and Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque Nur Ur Rehman Barkati, both of whom are very close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Things took an ugly turn on February 22 at the first board meeting of the year when Barkati called Ahmed `a thief, a dacoit and a middleman'. And at the meeting of the board next day where Ahmed was not present, the Imam threw water bottles at Afaquzamman Khan, another member and a close confidant of Ahmed who just ducked to save himself from the missiles. Chairman Abdul Ghani and other members had a harrowing time to pacify the two members and ultimately the chairman had to cancel the meeting. Wakf property is movable or immovable property given by philanthropists to be used for religious or charitable purposes. 

While Barkati, who became a member this year again, says he was there to cleanse the board of `beimans" (traitors), Ahmed told his close friends and followers he would apprise the chief minister of the shenanigans of the Imam. According to sources it was at the meeting of February 22 when the board first met this year after reconstitution, that Barkati became vocal against Ahmed alleging the MP was there to grab the whole of the Board.  He called the MP, who is also a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board an agent of CPM, a thief and a middleman and said he wanted the Wakf Board, constituted under the Wakf Act of 1995, to be run under Shariat Law. Again next day Barkati flew in rage when Afaquzamman Khan, a close follower of Ahmed wanted to know about a Wakf property at Darjeeling. As Khan said he would file a query under RTI to know about this, Barkati started firing from all cylinders calling Khan a chamcha of Ahmed. As a hot argument broke out, Barkati threw water bottles at Khan twice making other members stunned and speechless.

Interestingly Ahmed, a former minister of state in the earlier UPA government has got with him the support of members owing allegiance to the Opposition like the Congress. ``The kind of language Barkati used at the meeting....we started wondering how an Imam could use that type of filthy language. In fact he wanted to become the chairman of the Board but he is unfit for that. He is not even fit for becoming a member of the Board. He tried to browbeat the other members by using the name of the chief minister,'' Abu Taher Khan, Congress MLA and a member of the Board told Echo of India. The MP, who expressed his resentment in his close quarters about the whole episode, however, did not make any comment. ``It is for the government to take a decision in this regard,'' Ahmed told Echo of India.

But other members were harsher. ``What is Imamsaab up to we cannot understand. In Islam anger is considered to be the worst vice and the Shahi Imam got influenced by it. Such acts are not acceptable from an Imam,'' Maulana A Abbas Rizvhi, another member told Echo of India. When contacted, Barkati launched a scathing attack on Ahmed. ``I have come here to cleanse the Board of beimans (traitors), those who are inmical to the interests of Muslims. I have got the mandate of Didi. Sultan is an agent of RSS, the BJP. All those who are against Islam will  be eradicated,'' Barkati told Echo of India.