A special National Investigation Agency court on Thursday issued a non-bailable warrant against controversial Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik on charges of promoting enmity. The agency told the court that Naik did not appear before it even after he was summoned thrice and has sought Interpol’s help to bring the preacher back to India, reported PTI.
Naik has reportedly held a “permanent residence” status in Malaysia for at least five years, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said on Tuesday. He had also claimed said that the Islamic preacher had been living in various countries. “I would like to confirm that he holds a permanent residence status in Malaysia. But he is not a Malaysian citizen,” Hamidi had said as he offered Malaysia’s cooperation with India on the matter.
On April 13, a special court in Mumbai had issued an open-dated, non-bailable warrant against Naik in connection with a case of money laundering registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate. The central agency had moved court earlier last week, saying that Naik had failed to show up despite repeated summons. The next day, the NIA said that it would seek an Interpol notice against him to curb his movements out of Saudi Arabia, where he is currently based, if he failed to turn up before it by April 17, The Times of India reported.
In response, Naik challenged the Indian authorities to find him in Malaysia. “Such a cowardly investigation. They [India] have got no guts. If they want to interview me face to face, then come over here and talk. Come to neutral ground,” he was quoted as saying.
The Mumbai-born preacher said that he was not willing to present himself before the NIA. “I told them that I am ready to be interviewed on Skype, phone and through video-conferencing. If I go there, they will torture me. So, why should I go there? They have done that to other Muslims and I have got proof,” he claimed.
The televangelist has been on the government’s radar since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the terrorists behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016. He was also accused of meeting two brothers from Kerala who were among those who went missing in West Asia and were feared to have joined the Islamic State.