Accusing the Imam of the city's Tipu Sultan Masjid of solemnising the marriage of a boy with a transgender, a section of Muslims demanded here on Saturday that Maulana Noor-ur-Rahman Barkati step down from his post. They insisted that the West Bengal government take stern action against the Imam.

At a press meet, the protesters said solemnising such marriages was against the Islamic law and sent out a wrong message. Maulana Barkati solemnised the marriage on March 9 with full knowledge of the facts but when the boy's family approached the Imam, he put the blame on the muzzaeen (the person who gives the prayer call), the protesters said.

However, Mr. Barkati, while admitting that he solemnised the marriage, said he was ignorant of the fact that the bride was a transgender. He said the entire episode was “politically motivated” and a “ploy to malign him.”

“Since the bride has to be behind the purdah during the ceremony, I could not ascertain the person's sex. It is an evil deed of some people who wanted to ridicule the religion and play political games ahead of the crucial Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections,” the Imam told The Hindu.

Significantly, Maulana Barkati is close to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and is regularly seen at the party's functions. He was instrumental in garnering support of the minority population for the party in the panchayat and Lok Sabha elections in the last two years.

Ishrat Nazir Azad, managing director of an Urdu weekly and one of the persons spearheading the protest, alleged that Maulana Barkati had been dabbling in anti-Islamic activities like marrying off minor children for a consideration of hefty sums of money and issuing wrong certificates and fatwas for some time now.

“Being the Imam of a prestigious mosque, the impact of his action on the State's Muslims is immense. How could he solemnise a man-to-man marriage which is forbidden by the Koran? We want him to abdicate the post of Imam as well as Qaziship immediately, failing which we will launch a massive protest movement,” Mr. Azad said.

He said copies of the protesters' demand had been sent to the Governor, the Chief Minister, the Inspector-General of Registration and the State's Wakf Board.