The central government in an order which came into enforcement from 1st May, had directed all VIPs to remove the red beacon from their cars. Only the cars of Prime Minister, President, Vice-President, Chief Justice of India and the Lok Sabha speaker were exempted from the ban.
Even though PM Modi was exempted from the ban, he too decided not to use the beacon for setting an example for others. The Chief Justice of India too reportedly decided to do the same. Many union ministers and Chief Ministers were also seen removing their red beacons as images went viral on social media.
However, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque of Kolkata, who for some reasons has got red beacon installed on his vehicle, has refused to comply with the government order.
In order to ascertain why he was not removing the beacon, he came on TV and this is roughly what he tried to put forth:
The Imam claimed that Shahi Imams have been respected from the British era and that they have been using the red beacon and will also continue to do so. He went further by claiming that the ministers have a smaller stature as compared to Shahi Imams.
When the news anchor asked as to who gave him the authority to use the red beacon, he avoided the question and stated that only the courts had the right to ask him this question.
When the anchor asked as to whether the state government had authorized him, he stated that he had ‘created the state government’ hence how could it question him. He also claimed that he had also been using the red beacon during the CPM era and no one could say anything back then.
When the presenter reminded him that no-one had the right to use beacons after the 1st May deadline, the Imam responded by claiming that no such order had come for West Bengal. When the presenter stated that the order pertained to the whole nation, the Imam stated that Bengal is different and has its own powers.
The Imam further claimed that this directive is nothing but a trouble which has been hatched by the BJP and RSS. He also claimed that he regularly talks with Mamata and even if Modi invites him he would not be paying him a visit. The clip ends with him stating that Modi may be your PM but he is not my PM.
Reports have also quoted the Imam saying that Mamata has personally given him permission to continue using the red beacon:
This behavior by the Shahi Imam is not new and he is regularly in the news for making controversial statements. On 8th May the Shahi Imam had stated that he would oust and beat up the Muslims who work for or join the BJP or RSS.