Ever since Mamata Banerjee assumed the reigns of West Bengal, she has left the state at the mercy of radical Islamists as she heavily relies on the 30% minority vote in West Bengal. This was evident from the fact that Mamata gave a free hand to the mob to plunder public properties in the name of protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Mamata has no morals or limits and has even nurtured radical Islamists in her government. One such radical Islamist happens to be Siddiqullah Chowdhury who is a Minister of State with independent charge of Mass Education.
Chowdhury recently stoked controversy as he claimed that he won’t allow Home Minister Amit Shah from stepping out of the Kolkata airport if the CAA is not withdrawn immediately.
While speaking at a rally he had warned the Home Minister, “We may not allow Shah to step out of the city airport if necessary. We may gather one lakh people there to stop him.” Of course, Mamata didn’t feel the need to pull up Chowdhury for his attempt to threaten the Home Minister of India.
Siddiqullah Chowdhury who was recently denied a visa to travel to Bangladesh was “shocked” and has written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the “insult” and “harassment” he faced. It must be noted that Bangladesh has been very cautious in giving visas to the radicals or extremist elements, it does not want anyone who gives communal and inflammatory speeches in its territory. Bangladesh also shares a special relationship with India, its PM Sheikh Hasina shares a cordial relation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Despite the growing Islamisation of the ‘Bengali identity’, PM Hasina has been harsh on the extremist elements in Bangladesh. India’s continued partnership and assistance under Modi government benefit Bangladesh immensely hence it would not entertain any radical element on its soil as it might upset the Modi government.
The 65-year-old Bengal minister has been a prominent leader of the Muslim community since the 1980s and has drawn flak for his speeches, which have often been called “inappropriate” for a person holding public office. At times, leaders of his party, Trinamool Congress, have also disowned his comments, saying they don’t reflect the “party’s stand”. Darul Uloom Deoband is often known for its extremist views which again came to the fore as on the occasion of Eid, the Islamic institute of education Darul Uloom said in its latest fatwa that hugging on the occasion of Eid is not good in the eyes of Islam. In 2017, the Deoband decreed that grooming eyebrows and trimming hair were for Muslim women ‘unIslamic’ practices. The fatwa not only drew widespread condemnation but also sparked off a debate among Muslims. The Deoband’s next shocker was an edict against Muslim men and women uploading photographs on social media. Hence, it must come as no surprise that Chowdhury is a graduate from Darul Uloom Deoband.
Until 2016, Chowdhury was a staunch critic of Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee recognised the hold Chowdhury enjoys among the minorities as he used to head the Bengal unit of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. The body controls around 980 madrasas, with more than 2 lakh students. Banerjee just before the 2016 Assembly elections brought Chowdhury into the Trinamool fold to win over the minority votes. Chowdhury had earlier been associated with the Congress, as well as Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front, the regional party in Assam. But after Chowdhury’s tie-up with Banerjee, Ajmal broke the ties between their organisations.
Chowdhury is also known to be close to Khaleda Zia the main opposition in Bangladesh and has time and again criticised the Sheikh Hasina government. The biggest flashpoint between Chowdhury and the Hasina government came in 2013, during the trials of the Razakars — a force created by the Pakistani Army during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971. Chowdhury held meetings in support of the Razakars, and hailed them as “religious leaders”. After the country’s courts pronounced the Razakars guilty and awarded punishment, Chowdhury also labelled it a “conspiracy” on the part of the government.
Sheikh Hasina has accused Khaleda’s Bangladesh National Party and its Islamic allies of having links to outlawed Islamist groups. Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman were accused of orchestrating a grenade attack on Hasina’s political rally in 2004, although Hasina was unharmed in the attack, as many as 24 people were killed with around 500 injured. Zia’s son Rahman was jailed for life in the 2004 blast case this October. The special court in Dhaka also gave the death penalty to several other members of the BNP, including former junior home minister Lutfuzzaman Babar for the attack on a public rally in 2004, news agency Reuters reported. Rahman is now living in London ostensibly to evade the law after a court sentenced him to life imprisonment for masterminding a grenade attack in 2004. Khaleda is also in jail on corruption charges. It seems only natural that Chowdhury was a close confidante of Khaleda Zia as both of them are radical Islamists.
While the nation collectively rejoiced as the Centre outlawed Triple Talaq, only the radical Islamist were shedding tears as their hold over Muslim women had weakened considerably. The same people had the audacity to claim that Triple Talaq was actually beneficial for the Muslim women. It comes as no surprise that Chowdhury had also refused to abide by the law against the Islamic practice of Triple Talaq passed by the government. “It is not possible for the community to comply with such a law, which is an attack on Islam. We do not like this law; it will increase the atrocities on Muslim women,” he had said. A few years before, when there was a debate on a Uniform Civil Code, Chowdhury had said at a rally the government will never be able to implement it, and if it forces this law on Muslims, the results will be “disastrous”.
Radical Islamists like Siddiqullah Chowdhury are a threat to the entire nation and Mamata in her quest to gain the minority vote share will go to any extent.