An attempt was made Sunday evening to set the Imam of Jama Masjid on fire but his security staff thwarted the attack.
A man breached at least 10 rows of praying Muslims to throw kerosene on Syed Ahmed Bukhari, but was stopped before he could use the lighter on him, said the Imam’s family.
Tariq Bukhari, the Imam’s brother, said the motive behind the attack was not yet clear, “though the attacker knew when the security around the Imam is weakest, and intended to kill him”. “His security is always a concern. Namaz is the time when the Imam is without security and among people. The attack happened when the Imam and other namazis were in sajda position (prostration),” Tariq Bukhari said.
He said the attacker was not a regular namazi and has not been seen at Jama Masjid before. The police later identified the attacker as 32-year-old Kamaluddin, a resident of 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, and said a bottle of kerosene was found on the scene. A probe is on into his motive.
Deepak Mishra, special commissioner for law and order said, “We have arrested him and a case has been registered against him. The investigation to ascertain why he did that is on. The Imam escaped unhurt,” said.
The Imam’s son and successor Shaban Bukhari said the attacker was immediately controlled by the security personnel. “A lighter was found on him. The Imam was immediately taken to safety and the area was cordoned off.”