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Abu Azmi defends Zakir Naik, alleges RSS, VHP creating "negative perception" about Islam


Backing Zakir Naik's claim that he is being unnecessarily targeted by the Centre, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi on Saturday said the imposition of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the former's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is wrong and alleged that the right wing organisations like the RSS and VHP were creating a negative perception about Islam.

Azmi told ANI that a conspiracy was being hatched to link Naik's NGO to terrorist activities.

"Zakir Naik was neither given notice nor was he summoned. I reckon that a conspiracy is being created to link Zakir Naik's foundation to terrorist activities. I have been reiterating from the beginning that Naik, who has been working for the past 25 years in this field, cannot be associated with such anti-activities. And if he has somehow provocated any other religious community's sentiment then there are relevant sections which can be used against him. However, imposing UAPA against him is uncalled for," he said.

However, BJP leader G.V.L Narasimha Rao described Zaik as a "threat" and said that various government agencies were tracking his NGO for several months.

"This government takes initiative only after ascertaining all facts. Zakir Naik doesn't really have anything to support his claims. His NGO, the IRF, was under scrutiny of the government and various agencies of the government for several months. And only after a thorough inquiry and probe, decision has been taken to ban this organisation under Unlawful Activities Act," Rao told ANI.

Naik, yesterday, criticised the Centre's decision to declare the IRF as an "outlawed organisation" under the anti-terror law for its alleged terror activities.

Naik yesterday cried foul over the latest developments and said that the entire investigation was completed without any agency asking him a single question about his "so-called wrongdoings".

"Not a single chance. No notice, no summons, no calls and no contact ever made with me to get my side of the story. I kept offering my help in investigation, but it wasn't taken. The entire investigation was completed without any agency asking me a single question about my so-called 'wrongdoings'," read a statement issued by Naik's office.

Expressing his resolve to fight the ban, the Islamic preacher said that he would approach the judiciary.

"I have no choice left but to answer them only through the legal system and not personally. Their agenda is open and clear: implicate me by hook or by crook, which I will fight," the statement added.

Naik's counsel Mobin Solkar said earlier this month that the case filed by the Investigative Agency (NIA) against his client under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is illegal, as the Supreme Court had earlier granted a stay in a similar case and hence any fresh complaint on the same grounds would stand void.

Solankar maintained that from 2012 till date, Naik has not given any lecture which can be a cause of action for filing a fresh FIR against him.

He, however, conceded that the investigative agency is entitled to search and visit the premises of the IRF owned by Naik and the organisation would comply with all investigative processes carried out by the NIA.

Earlier, the authorities blocked the websites of IRF for allegedly spreading objectionable contents, speeches and videos.

As per reports, the NIA will also raise the issue of suspension of videos on YouTube and Facebook pages with the U.S. since the servers are located there.

The NIA had earlier on November 19 carried out searches at 10 premises of the banned IRF in Mumbai after registering a case against its founder Naik and others under an anti-terror law.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sat, November 26 2016. 13:35 IST