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Zakir Naik flees to Africa, says 'no govt agency has contacted me'

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : Jul 12, 2016, 10:29 am IST
Updated : Jul 12, 2016, 10:29 am IST

Apart from coming under scanner in India, Bangladesh has also banned the broadcast of Naik's Peace TV.

Naik also cancelled his press conference scheduled in Mumbai on Tuesday but will address media through Skype on the allegations.
 Naik also cancelled his press conference scheduled in Mumbai on Tuesday but will address media through Skype on the allegations.

Apart from coming under scanner in India, Bangladesh has also banned the broadcast of Naik's Peace TV.

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who was expected back in Mumbai on Monday from Saudi Arabia, is unlikely to return to the country for another two to three weeks as he is planning to visit some African countries for public speeches.

In a statement released from abroad, he said no Indian government agency has contacted him over the allegations.

“It would be my pleasure to cooperate with any official Indian government investigation agency for any information they might require from me,” he said, reaffirming that he “does not support terrorism or violence and neither does he support any terrorist organisation”.

Naik also cancelled his press conference scheduled in Mumbai on Tuesday but will address media through Skype on the allegations of inspiring militants through his speeches, an aide of the preacher said on Monday.

"Dr Zakir Naik was never supposed to be physically present for the media briefing that was to take place on Tuesday. He had decided that he will address the media through Skype and answer all queries that media persons may have had," he said.

"His (Naik's) travel schedule had been made long back. After performing Umrah, he is scheduled to travel to Jeddah from where he will visit Africa for his public talks scheduled there. He is therefore not expected in the country for another 2-3 weeks at least," he added.

He, however, said that Naik is not running away from any inquiry and that he is only sticking to his travel schedule worked out in advance.

Apart from coming under scanner in India, Bangladesh has also banned the broadcast of Naik's Peace TV, cracking down on the channel and radical sermons by the 'televanagelist.'

Shiv Sena has demanded arrest of Naik on his landing in India and dismantling of his TV network. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party Maharashtra unit President Abu Azmi came in support of Naik and sought to know why action has not been taken for the last 25 years if his speeches are inspiring terrorists, and called for a fair inquiry into charges against him.

"Zakir Naik has been a preacher for around 25 years now. If he has been inspiring terrorists, why was no action taken against him from so long There should be an inquiry, conducted by a retired Supreme Court judge to prove that he can never do anything of this sort. But, this media trial against him should stop," Azmi told reporters in Mumbai.

"While there should be a thorough investigation into Zakir Naik's speeches, fundings of his Islamic Research Foundation, the Centre should first ban Sanathan Sanstha because their members have been named by the CBI for being involved in the killing of those who opposed their way of Hinduism," he said.

"We want justice for him (Naik). Let the inquiry be conducted by a non-Muslim judge like Justice Srikrishna, Rajindar Sachar or another retired judge of the Supreme Court," Azmi added.

(This story originally appeared in the Deccan Chronicle as may the case be)