Controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik has once again termed all the reports pertaining to his return to India as baseless. Naik said that he would not return home till he felt safe from unfair prosecution. While campaigning for the 2014 election Narendra Modi had promised to bring back Dawood Ibrahim and many other criminals who have absconded from India. Four years have already passed but the BJP government has failed to extradite them. Attempts were also being made to deport Zakir Naik but the government has not made any headway. Did the government only make promises to extradite absconders to lure voters? Does it lack the political will to bring them back?
“Zakir Naik is wrongly defamed. He never taught hatred. A terrorist may follow any person, that person is not accountable until he preaches hate. Talking about hate speakers, we have many in our country who incite communal tensions,” said freelance journalist Shoyeb Habib.
If the government succeeds in arresting him before the next year’s Lok Sabha polls then it can give a shot in the arm to them while campaigning for the election. The government can also derive political mileage as the opposition has always been attacking it for its failure to bring back criminals who have left the country. Even if the government manages to deport Naik he is likely to remain an undertrial like Abu Salem. All facilities will be offered to him like other high profile criminals at the cost of taxpayers’ money.
Niyaz Shaikh a private taxi driver said, “If this government feels that Naik is wrong, then they must conduct a probe to unveil the truth. Proper security measures must be taken for him. He is a religious leader and all security steps should be there in advance.”
In a statement issued through his PRO in Mumbai, Naik mentioned, “The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I feel safe from unfair prosecution.” Naik is presently staying in Malaysia. In December 2017, the Interpol had turned down India’s request to issue the red corner notice to Naik.
Ramanand Kishor, a priest said, “There are many religious leaders who spread hatred and divide people. When a true preacher of the God preaches, you see people transform and heal. However, many people joined the ISIS after hearing Zakir Naik’s speeches. He should be prevented from broadcasting such speeches.”
A case has been registered by the Enforcement Directorate and his organisation Islamic Research Foundation under money laundering laws. His banking transactions and other details have already being scanned by the agency. Two years back, the National Investigation Agency had registered a case against Naik under the anti-terror law for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and race.
Nusrat Ali, Naeb Emir Jamaat-e-Islami Hind told AV that the whole campaign against Dr Zakir Naik is against the rights as defined in the Indian Constitution. “The vilification campaign against him is against the freedom of conscience, and free profession, practice and propagation of religion as defined in the constitution. It should be stopped immediately.”
The activities of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) came under the scanner of the security agencies after one of the terrorists involved in Dhaka terror attack had posted comments on the social media that they have been inspired by Naik’s speeches. Few youths from Mumbai had left their homes to join the ISIS in 2016 after they were allegedly inspired by his preachings. Naik had transferred foreign funds of IRF to Peace TV for making objectionable programmes.
Advocate Abbas Kazmi said, “Since Zakir Naik is absconding hence it is under Interpol’s jurisdiction to arrest him. There are many sections under which police might arrest him i.e. money laundering, disturbing communal harmony, creating a rift between communities. As India has signed an expedition treaty with Malaysia, it is possible to bring him back.”
The Union Ministry has already declared Naik’s IRF as unlawful. A ban has been imposed on his speeches in the UK, Canada, and Malaysia. Criminal cases have been registered against Naik by the Maharashtra Police for his alleged involvement in the radicalisation of Muslim youth. The government has already imposed a ban on IRF for five years.
Mahmood Darybadi, President of the All India Milli Council, Mumbai slammed the media for running a shameful campaign against Naik. “We have differences of opinions on some religious issues with Dr Zakir Naik. But, attempt to paint his entire efforts as something which promotes terrorism and violence is absolutely wrong and misleading,” He accused the media of bias and termed the entire campaign against Dr Zakir Naik a deliberate and planned exercise to target the preacher on the basis of cooked up allegations.
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])