12/01/2017 10:08 AM IST | Updated 12/01/2017 11:08 AM IST

Bengal's Fatwa-Happy Cleric's Latest Stunt - An Offer Of ₹25 Lakh For Blackening Modi's Face

He has issued several fatwas earlier, and is unlikely to back down.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan Masjid, had first issued a fatwa against BJP leader Dilip Ghosh, then he issued a fatwa against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to The Hindustan Times he is even offering ₹25 lakh for blackening PM Modi's face.

His latest fatwa, against Modi, was because of the troubles people faced due to demonetisation.

Barkati, with his henna-tinted burgundy beard, has never been in politics, but his fatwas have been seemingly political in nature. The Hindustan Times reports that state governments have ignored his sometimes provocative acts, the Left government gave him a car with a red beacon, while now he can be seen alongside Mamata Banerjee in many functions.

The BJP has filed a complaint against him after his fatwa against Modi, but Barkati is not the one to be perturbed.

Barkati tells The Hindustan Times, "I stand by my fatwa against Modi ... He is also responsible for the death of the 127 (so far) who died queuing up in front of banks and ATMs after demonetisation."

While issuing the fatwa PTI had reported him as saying, "Modi is bluffing the society and the innocent people of the country through demonetisation and nobody wants him to continue as the Prime Minister."

In the past, Barkati has issued fatwas against several people including writers Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie. Barkati while issuing the fatwa against Nasreen had accused her of being a Jewish spy. "She has no right to hurt Muslims' sentiments by saying anything against our Prophet. She is a Jewish spy and there should be a CBI probe into her funding," he had said in 2006. He had issued two more fatwas against her, once in 2004 and then in 2007.

Barkati has also recently threatened Canadian-born writer Tarek Fatah on a television show saying, "Your throat will also be slit." This was when both of them were part of a debate on a private TV show.

However, no action was taken against him.

Before the fatwa against the PM Modi, Barkati had attacked BJP leader Dilip Ghosh for making 'filthy' comments against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, drawing a bitter reaction from the state BJP president.

"From where does he get such audacity to make filthy comments against our beloved chief minister who is the most secular leader of our country? I issued the fatwa which states that he should be pelted with stones and then kicked out of Bengal. He does not deserve to stay in Bengal," Barkati had said.

After the fatwa against the PM, BJP's West Bengal chief Siddharth Nath Singh had said harshly criticised Barkati, and had even accused the Trinamool Congress for being party to his antics. "We demand that Mamata Banerjee immediately order his arrest. The fatwa against our Prime Minister is highly condemnable. TMC MP Idris Ali was sitting next to him when he issued the fatwa," Singh had said.

However, despite such criticism, Barkati insists that what he is doing is for the greater good. He told The Hindustan Times, "I am fighting for preserving the secular character of our society and will continue to do so. Will I keep quiet when so many innocent people are under attack in the country?"

"When I walk on the roads, four policemen protect me. My fatwas are true and I don't care," he told the newspaper.