Delhi Riots: Police Tries to Link Accused to Zakir Naik, Both Deny
Dr Zakir Naik denies knowing Khalid Saifi, whose lawyer also called the allegations to be “baseless”
The latest name introduced by the Delhi Police in its probe into the February 2020 Delhi riots is that of Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
In an application filed by the Delhi Police in the Patiala house courtroom, presided by judge Dharmendra Rana on 15 June, the police alleged that one of the accused Khalid Saifi met Naik overseas and sought his support.
The Quint was present at this hearing where the application was submitted and responses sought not only from the two Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) accused mention in the plea, Khalid Saifi and Ishrat Jahan, but notices were issued to the counsels of all others named as accused under FIR 59 as well.
Khalid Saifi is founder of United Against Hate, an organisation tracking hate crimes, and Ishrat Jahan is former Congress councillor from Delhi. Delhi Police arrested both of them the day the anti-CAA protest site at Khureji was pulled apart by the police, while communal violence ravaged northeast Delhi, on 26 February.
What the Application Says About Dr Zakir Naik
In a hearing that lasted around three hours on 15 June the prosecution appealed to the judge to give them a three-month extension for the investigation. The plea in the application reads: ‘It is humbly requested that the limitation period for filing charge sheet against all above accused persons may also be extended up to 17.09.2020.’
Now in this application filed by the police, one of the arguments cited specifically regarding Khalid Saifi was:
“The passport and travel details of the accused confirm that accused Khalid (Saifi) travelled outside India and met persons including fugitive Zakir Naik in order to get support/funds for spreading his agenda.”
In the order that was released on 16 June evening, the court allowed Delhi Police an extension of 60 days to conclude investigation. While the police asked for extension till 17 September, the judge has given time till 14 Aug.
The judge noted: ‘I have no hesitation in observing that the prosecution has set out a case for extension of the statutory time period to conclude investigation and the application at hand deserves to be allowed. However, the IO is not divested of his obligation of concluding investigations expeditiously. Therefore he is permitted to conclude the pending investigation within 60 days from today, i,e till 14 August 2020.’
Response from Dr Zakir Naik and Khalid Saifi
The Quint reached out to Dr Zakir Naik through his lawyer advocate Mubin Solkar and the preacher has denied knowing or meeting Khalid Saifi.
Dr Naik is not aware who is Khalid (Saifi). He has not met him on a personal level. Dr Naik meets thousands of people who even click photos/selfies with him. Any attempt to link Dr Naik to the accused is malafide and motivated.Advocate Mubin Solkar, Dr Zakir Naik’s lawyer
We also reached out to Saifi’s lawyer, Harsh Bora, who told The Quint that “these allegations were baseless”.
Other than reaching out to both sides, The Quint also spoke to an eyewitness who was present at an international conference held in Malaysia where Saifi had publicly criticised Zakir Naik.
“I clearly recall Mr Saifi spoke against Zakir Naik and said that he cannot be considered a representative of Indain Muslims,” one of the delegates at the conference told The Quint, on condition of anonymity.
The conference which was held in Malaysia, where Zakir Naik has been residing for the past few years, was about Palestine and was held in March-April of 2019.
Could This Be a Pattern in Delhi Police’s Riot Probe?
Zakir Naik isn’t the first prominent figure or institution whose name the Delhi Police has mentioned in their investigation via brief notes or applications.
In its charge sheet on the violence near Rajdhani School in Shiv Vihar, the police alleged that the main accused Faisal Farooque was in touch with Tablighi Jamaat and the Darul Uloom Seminary in Deoband. It also described the Deoband seminary as “fundamentalist” despite the fact that it has issued several fatwas against terrorism.
Then in its charge sheet on FIR number 65 that deals with the murder of IB staffer Ankit Sharma, the police has mentioned activist Harsh Mander in its “chronology” of events that led to the riots.
Over 160 academics and activists have condemned this, calling it an attempt “to concoct a ‘chronology’ and create a false narrative about the Delhi riots”.
In a recent interview to PTI, Delhi police chief CN Shrivastava said that the Delhi Police is a "credible force", which has carried out the investigation into the northeast Delhi violence "with full responsibility" and has "been very fair and transparent". At least 53 people died and property worth crores were destroyed in the riots.
Sources from Delhi Police had said, according to reports in several news outfits including NDTV and The Hindu, that they had submitted charge sheets in 78 cases in the first week of June. By 17 June, Hindustan Times reported that 100 charge sheets have been filed in as many cases in over 750 cases pertaining to the north-east Delhi riots.
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