Many decades ago when the dreaded and despicable dictator of East African nation Uganda Edi Amin was finally overthrown, he managed to get refuge in Saudi Arabia. Amin, during his regime, committed crime against humanity but Saudi Arabia decided to provide him shelter in the name of Islam. Now we have the case of Islamic television evangelist Zakir Abdul Karim Naik staying put in Saudi Arabia as cops wait for him in Mumbai to question him as there are indications of his role in the mayhem which was committed by Jihadists in Gulshan neighbourhood of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
Naik is reported to have cancelled his return from Saudi Arabia to hometown Mumbai following the media reports, which he calls media trial, that his sermons influenced a terrorist killed in the July 1 Dhaka siege. In a statement released from abroad, he has said no Indian government agency has contacted him over the allegations and that it would cooperate with Indian investigation agencies for any information. The statement is fine but why Naik, a Mumbaikar, is refusing to move out of the safe house in Saudi Arabia. Naik is unlikely to return for another two to three weeks as he is planning to visit some African nations for public speeches. Naik is banned from entering UK and Canada for his controversial “hate speeches”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, has indicated that he was worried about the allegations which have been brought against Naik. Addressing students at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, Prime Minister said, “preachers of hate and violence are threatening the fabric of our society”. In an apparent reference to Naik, PM Modi urged youth to play an important role in building a counter-narrative to extremist ideologies.
A qualified doctor, Naik became a preacher and founded the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). He has been under surveillance since 2003 serial blasts in Mumbai, when his name cropped up. Naik was questioned extensively but Mumbai Police could not find any evidence linking him to any act of terrorism.
Since Zakir so far has been provided freedom by India to conduct his public programmes, it’s important for him to submit himself to the Indian agencies to clarify his role, if any, in the terror attacks in Bangladesh. The neighbouring nation has already banned his channel Peace TV from telecasting its content saying it incited the attack on a Dhaka café in which 22 people were gunned down by young, educated terrorists who belonged to affluent families.
Naik’s role is also being alleged in the disappearance of 20-odd youth from Kerala, who are suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS), the current fountainhead of global Jihadism. Parents of two brothers from Kerala have said that the duo had met Naik in Mumbai. The brothers are among the 20-odd missing youth from the state, suspected of joining the IS. Given the increasing quantum of allegations against him, Naik must return and clarify his position before the security agencies.