A Jaipur court on Tuesday ordered police to register an FIR against Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi, following a complaint accusing him of trying to damage religious harmony by inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but not Narendra Modi to his son's investiture ceremony.
The court asked the police to investigate and submit a report after Jaipur resident Rafeek Khan filed a criminal complaint against the Shahi Imam, accusing him of "deliberately ignoring" Prime Minister Modi while sending out invitations for the November 22 event.
According to the complainant, the Shahi Imam cannot disregard Modi because the chair he occupies calls for an invite to the "dastarbandi", the ceremony in which his 19-year-old son Syed Shaban Bukhari will be anointed as the Naib Imam, or deputy Imam, of Jama Masjid.
Bukhari told HT he wasn't aware of the court order and called the complaint a publicity stunt. "It's a democracy. People can do what they want. It is being done for publicity," he said.
"There is no question of damage to national integrity. I am not against any religion or its followers. In fact, I want our country to move forward and harmony should be preserved. But for some time now, there have been attempts to divide Hindus and Muslims, which is not acceptable," he added.
After the flutter following his invite to Sharif last month, the Shahi Imam had said it was within his rights to choose whom he wants to send invitations for the function.
He repeated his stand on Tuesday, saying he invited Sharif because of his family's personal equation with him. "It's a personal function. I am not against inviting the PM but Modi. Vajpayee was invited by my father at my dastarbandi in 2000 and he had sent us a congratulatory note. Modi has maintained a distance from Muslims. It's his policies that I am against," he said.
But the complaint in the Jaipur court said Bukhari cannot hide under a "personal prerogative cloak" because the Jama Masjid "is a national monument that belongs to the people" and no private privilege can be entertained for any public event there. "Narendra Modi is the leader of our nation and Jama Masjid is a national property… so there cannot be any ambiguity on who he can invite," the complainant had said.