Bengal Governor pans CM with markaz statement, Muslim leaders irked
The West Bengal Imams’ Association on Saturday shot off a letter to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, accusing him of “trying to disturb the communal harmony from a constitutional position” and seeking retraction of his statement on Nizamuddin markaz in Delhi.
The imams’ body threatened to start a movement if Dhankhar does not retract his statement or clarify himself. Of around 40,000 mosques in the state, clerics of 26,000 mosques are members of the association.
Dhankhar referred to Nizamuddin markaz in his letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday. He wrote a day after Banerjee sent him a five-page letter, accusing Dhankhar of forgetting his constitutional role.
“I can figure out that your entire strategy is crafted to deliberately divert people’s attention from your abject failure in combating and containing coronavirus in West Bengal. Your appeasement of the minority community was so explicit and awkward that as regards a question about the Nizamuddin markaz incident by a journalist, your reaction was ‘Do not ask communal questions’. This is most unfortunate and cannot be appreciated,” Dhankhar wrote to Banerjee.
As Muslims across West Bengal observed the first day of the month of Ramzan, the imams’ body raised strong objection to Dhankhar’s comment.
“Nizamuddin markaz incident was related to Delhi Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was completely their issue... we all are very much aware that general Muslims of India don’t have any relation with (the) markaz incident,” Md Yahiya, chairman, Bengal Imams Association, wrote to Dhankhar. Copies of the letter were sent to important officials at Raj Bhawan.
If the authorities at Nizamuddin have made any mistake law will take it own course, said the letter. “As a lawyer by profession, I hope you are well aware about that.” Yahiya added and accused the Centre and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of targeting Muslims.
This is the first time any religious body in the state has spoken out against Dhankhar whose acrimonious relationship with the Trinamool Congress government has been in news since last year.
“The Bengal chief minister said in her press conference (when a journalist asked about Nizamuddin Markaz incident) that it is a communal question. What’s wrong with that reply? As a chief minister she also has right to freedom of expression,” said Yahiya’s letter.
The letter said that when students of Jadavpur University (JU) once asked Dhankhar questions on the Jamia Millia University incident, Dhankhar, in his capacity as chancellor of JU, said Jamia Millia is not related to Bengal. “By avoiding such question in her (Banerjee’s) press meet how is it appeasement of Muslims of Bengal as you mentioned in your letter? Please clarify or retract publicly for trying to disturb the communal harmony from a constitutional position, as early as possible. Since in this lockdown period we can’t move towards Raj Bhavan, we need to do our movement from home,” the letter said.
A Raj Bhawan official said the offices were closed during the weekend and correspondences would be checked on Monday.
Trinamool Congress leaders were not willing to react. However, BJP Bengal unit general secretary Sayantan Basu said, “This (the letter) is part of a greater conspiracy. It is well known that a large number of people from Bengal attended the markaz in Delhi and many of them have not been traced and placed under quarantine.”
“The Governor has only warned the government. Mamata Banerjee must remember that one can ride a tiger but getting off the tiger is not easy. She must stop her communal politics,” said Basu.