Controversial Preacher Zakir Naik Denies He Is Returning to India
“The news is absolutely false and baseless,” says lawyer of controversial speaker.
Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has no plans of coming to India, his lawyer Mubin Solkar clarified on Wednesday, 4 July, after reports of Naik returning to the country surfaced.
"The news is absolutely false and baseless," Solkar told ANI, adding that there hasn't been any progress on the extradition request put in by the Indian government.
The news was summarily rejected in a statement by Naik himself, who said he wouldn't come back to India till he felt safe from “unfair prosecution.”
When I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland.Zakir Naik in a statement
National Investigation Agency (NIA) spokesperson Alok Mittal also said that the agency had no such information and "we are trying to verify it.”
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs told The Quint that it had requested the Malaysian government for Naik's extradition to India in January 2018 and was still pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels.
"We have seen media reports regarding the deportation of Zakir Naik by the Malaysian government. We are yet to receive official confirmation in this regard from Malaysian authorities," a source in the ministry said.
The Bombay High Court had, on 20 June, 2018, refused to give any respite to Naik who had filed a petition seeking a direction to the NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit reports on the probe carried out by them against him.
Naik had also sought direction to the Ministry of External Affairs to cancel the revocation of his passport, reported PTI. The court, however, said that Naik needed to file a separate petition for the matter concerning the status of his passport.
"Regarding the other reliefs sought in the petition, we do not see how this court can consider them when the petitioner has not even presented himself before the probe agencies. The petitioner is ensconced in Malaysia and is seeking a direction to the agencies to submit probe reports," the court had said.
Naik is facing a probe by the NIA and the ED after his sermons on his Peace TV were cited as a reason by Bangladesh for an attack in Dhaka in 2016, which left 22 people dead.
Congress Issues a Measured Response
In an apparent reference to Zakir Naik, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said the country cannot afford to have question marks on people in important positions in public but if there is no culpability of an individual, one should not be continuously "hounded".
"As long as there are complaints, charges, accusations, it is good that the matter should get to a sensible conclusion. If there is culpability, then that culpability be punished. If there is no culpability, I don't think that one should continue to hound someone....We can't afford to have question marks about people who have important positions in public sphere," Khurshid was quoted as saying by PTI.
Khurshid, who is a former Law Minister, said the "sad thing" about Naik was that he was not available to the Indian authorities and the system. He, however, said it will be a good thing if he returns.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.