Interpol has canceled the Red Corner Notice it issued on the request of the Indian government against controversial Islamic scholar Zakir Naik, citing insufficient evidence against Naik. But India’s National Investigative Agency (NIA) said it will file a fresh request.
Naik has been accused of hate speech, promoting terrorism and money laundering, and investigations against him are underway in India. Naik, who is currently in Malaysia where he has permanent residence, denies these charges.
In a video message after the Interpol decision, Naik said he was relieved to hear that.
“But I would have been much more relieved if my own Indian government and Indian agencies, they gave me justice and cleared me of all the false charges. I am sure, Inshah Allah (God willing) it will soon happen, for truth has a fantastic way of coming out.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Naik said that one of the reasons Interpol canceled the Red Corner Notice against Naik was that the Indian government's request was based on “political and religious bias.”
But a spokesperson for NIA said that the Indian request was rejected because it was submitted before an application to indict Naik had been submitted.
“Now that we have filed an application in a Mumbai court to indict him, we will send a fresh request to the Interpol. We hope that the Interpol will now issue him (Naik) a notice,” Alok Mittal told the media.
The notice works like an international arrest warrant.
The Indian government has declared Naik a fugitive. In November, his organization, called Islamic Research Foundation, was banned for five years under India’s anti-terror law.
But Naik launched counterattacks on Prime Minister Modi’s government. In an interview with a Kuwaiti television station earlier this year, he said he was targeted by Modi’s “Hindu nationalist party” because of his popularity.
While Naik denies spreading religious or communal hatred, he made headlines when a man involved in a terrorist attack in Dhaka last year said that he was inspired by Naik’s speeches. Twenty-nine people were killed in that attack in the Bangladeshi capital in July 2016.
Naik was in Saudi Arabia at the time of the attack and went to Malaysia from there. He has not returned to India since then.
VOA’s Urdu Service also contributed to this report