KUALA LUMPUR— Fugitive Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik is wanted for allegedly funding terrorism, India said when rejecting his claim of being targeted due to his religious beliefs.
The country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) outwardly named the controversial preacher a “terror suspect” in its letter to Interpol debunking Dr Zakir’s response to the international law enforcement agency to contest the “red notice” India sought for his arrest.
According to the Times of India today, the NIA informed Interpol last month that it possessed compelling evidence that the preacher violated Indian law, explaining that he was investigated for funding terrorist activities via his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
“Having radicalised Muslim youth for years through his speeches, Naik has not presented himself before us despite several summons/warrants and his passport has been revoked by the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai,” the Times quoted from the NIA’s letter to Interpol.
The charges stem from the July 2016 Dhaka terrorist attack that resulted in 29 deaths including that of 20 hostages, the NIA said.
The IRF has also been banned for allegedly being an anti-national organisation, it added.
India has outstanding arrest warrants for Dr Zakir from his repeated refusals to attend court hearings regarding the investigation against him.
Dr Zakir reportedly fled India to avoid arrest after several perpetrators of a terror attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh claimed to have been inspired by his sermons, which prompted the NIA’s case against him under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
He is believed to be here in Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residence five years ago and where he is reportedly seeking citizenship.
The preacher is a polarising personality in Malaysia, alternately held in esteem by some in the Muslim community and reviled by those of other faiths due to his provocative teachings.
The local Hindu community, in particular, remains aggrieved with the preacher owing to remarks he previously made regarding their faith.
While Malaysia has not reacted to India’s allegations and warrants against Dr Zakir, a group of civil activists have sued the federal government here in a bid to compel the arrest and deportation of the controversial preacher.