Sonu Nigam azaan row: Will Mamata share dias with ‘imam’ who offered Rs 10 lakh bounty? | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Sonu Nigam azaan row: Will Mamata share dias with ‘imam’ who offered Rs 10 lakh bounty?

An influential Muslim body in Kolkata is hopeful that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will share a stage on Friday with a little-known leader who announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty for shaving Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam’s head.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2017 09:46 IST
HT Correspondent
West Bengal chief minister
West Bengal chief minister(PTI Photo)

An influential Muslim body in Kolkata is hopeful that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will share a stage on Friday with a little-known leader who announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty for shaving Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam’s head.

Syed Sha Atef Ali Al Quaderi heads a small sect in Howrah, adjacent to Kolkata, and has little religious authority or influence to issue a fatwa, local leaders say.

But this hasn’t deterred the West Bengal United Minority Council that says the chief minister “may attend” a rally slated for 2pm on communal harmony and peace.

“We are hopeful that the chief minster may attend,” said the spokesperson of WBUMC on Friday morning.

Quaderi is the vice-president of the council which is guided by All India Majlish-e-Soorah. The chairman of All India Majlish-e-Soorah is none other than the imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, Maulana Syed Noor-ur-Rahman Barkati, who is close to the chief minister.

Experts say despite the controversy, Banerjee might attend the programme to highlight her ‘non-communal’ stance and differentiate her political message from the BJP, which is gaining in strength in the eastern state.

Over the past few months, the Trinamool Congress chief has not let go a single opportunity to emphasise how her brand of inclusive politics was different from that of the BJP. Also, attending the programme apart from Quaderi -- whom the invitation mentions as the 35th descendant of the Prophet --will be Barkati himself and several other senior leaders from the Muslim society.

Quaderi’s offer had come hours after Nigam tweeted against the Islamic call for prayer, azaan, and called the custom “forced religiousness”. The bounty was widely criticised and ridiculed, especially after Nigam got his head shaved and challenged Quaderi to pay up.