Intro: “Bukhari is not an Imam, he is definitely not my Imam. What is this Shahi title and his son’s anointment? Jama Masjid is not his personal property. He does not represent our community.”
—Asaduddin Owaisi, President MIM
Syed Ahmed Bukhari seems to be thriving on controversies. A criminal case was lodged against him in 2001 when a mob led by him assaulted on duty police personnel and civic agency officials who were trying to remove encroachment from CGO Complex in Lodhi Colony. Non-bailable warrants were issued against him by Delhi Court. In 2010 Mohammed Wahid Chishti, editor of Dastan–e-Awadh, filed an FIR against him. Bukhari had threatened the editor with dire consequences when he asked him ‘uncomfortable questions’ during a press Conference.
And now the latest controversy is about not inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the anointment ceremony of his son as the ‘Naib Imam or the Imam’s Deputy’ on November 22. As a direct insult to Prime Minister the Shahi Imam invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the function. At a time when India’s relations with Pakistan is strained due to cross border terrorism Bukhari blatantly inviting PM of a rogue nation has predictably drawn flak and strong mixed reactions from the people.
Zulfi Memon, son of NCP secretary Majeed Memon and head of MZM law firm of Mumbai says, ‘By not inviting Narendra Modi, the elected representative of the Nation Syed Ahmed Bukhari has shown ‘disrespect’ to the PM‘’. The reason which Ahmed Bukhari cites for not inviting the Shri Modi is that the Muslims have not forgiven Modi for Gujarat riots. Modi claims to be prime minister of 125 crore Indians but he avoids addressing Muslims. Modi doesn’t like us says Bukhari in The Times of India report. Such inflammatory talk is not going down well even with the Muslims. Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis–e-Ittehadul–Muslimeen (MIM) and Lok Sabha MP from Hydrabad in an interview to The Times of India said, “Bukhari is not an Imam, he is definitely not my Imam. What is this Shahi title and his son’s anointment? Jama Masjid is not his personal property. He does not represent our community.”
Modi’s ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas’ reach out to Muslims is however not going unnoticed. On November 2, DNA published a report which stated that a recent meeting between Devendra Fadnavis the recently elected Chief Minister of Maharashtra and prominent leaders of the Muslim community was held in Hotel Trident where Muslim leaders extended their, “wholehearted” support to Fadnavis led BJP Government. During the month of Ramzan a group of Muslim women from Varanasi sent Rakhee and prayed for Modi’s well being. According to Nazneen Ansari, an activist working for Hindu Muslim unity, “We want to see Narendra Modi lead the Nation as he is a responsible politician with a vision of development.”
Bukhari by ostentatiously inviting Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel and deliberately omitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the 200 guest list is endorsing his support to the Congress. Sonia Gandhi however turned down the invitation.
The move to anoint his 19 son as vice Imam evoked dissent within his own family. According to Yahya Bukhari, younger brother of Bukhari, their father, the late Syed Abdullah Bukhari, wanted that Syed Ahmed Bukhari would be succeeded by his eldest son. The eldest son is Yasir from Ahmed Bukhari’s first marriage whom he has disowned. Yahya says that the words of his late father should be honoured and it is Yasir not Shaban who should be made vice Imam. Before indulging in controversies Imam Ahmed Bukhari should first set his own house in order.
When Ahmed Bukhari became Imam the Waqf Board had refused to recognise his appointment. His application kept pending for nearly 5 years which proves that Ahmed Bukhari does not have the backing of majority Muslims. Yet Bukhari has the audacity to say that he had to heed to the sentiments of Muslims.