Indian General Elections

DAMNING: 'Open To Returning To India If There's A Change In Government,' Says Hate Preacher Zakir Naik Calling Congress The 'lesser Of Two Evils'

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:

In a damning admission, Islamic preacher Zakir Naik who fled from India in 2016 and has since been granted permanent resident status by the Malaysian government has said in an interview to 'The Week' magazine that chances of him returning to the country would be higher if the ongoing Lok Sabha elections throw up a change in government.

Replying firmly in the affirmative when asked whether the ousting of the Modi government come May 23 would lead to him being open to the idea of returning, Naik sensationally called the Congress 'the lesser of two evils' and also threw in a few of his characteristic communal certificates, opining that he considers the Congress to be 'more Hindu' than the BJP. 

In the same interview, Zakir Naik had also said that he would be ready to return if the Supreme Court assures him that he would not be arrested till he is convicted in the matters in which he is currently embroiled. However, he even gave a political colour to the judiciary, once again focusing on the BJP:

"Before the BJP government came, you could speak against the government, and at least 80 per cent of the times you would get justice. Today, the chances are 10-20 per cent."

READ | 'Ready To Return If Supreme Court Assures I Will Not Be Arrested Till Conviction': Zakir Naik

The preacher was booked by the NIA after his name cropped up during the probe of a terror attack on Gulshan's Holey Artisan Bakery (cafe) in Dhaka's posh diplomatic area, claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Twenty people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the brutal late-night attack on July 1, 2016 after the attackers took diners and restaurant staff hostage.

The NIA had registered a case against him and his organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) under anti-terror laws and for allegedly promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion and race.

Earlier in May, the ED also filed a chargesheet naming the hate preacher. As per the probe agency, the investigation that has been ongoing against Naik since 2016 has led to the identification of Rs 193 crore as proceeds of crime. Further, properties worth Rs 50.5 crore has been attached including the Islamic International School in Chennai, 10 flats, three godowns, two buildings, land in Pune and Mumbai and 10 bank accounts. 

READ | Massive Crackdown On Zakir Naik, ED Files Chargesheet Against Controversial Preacher. Read It Here

The investigation has also revealed that Zakir Naik established around 7 companies in UK and India which were used to divert funds that were received by him and his trust. 

Furthermore, following the serial blasts in Sri Lanka, two of the country's major cable TV operators dropped Zakir Naik's Peace TV from their listings. India and Bangladesh had already banned the channel which has also allegedly been used by ISIS recruiters for indoctrination and brainwashing youth.

PM Modi raised this while addressing a poll rally in Madhya Pradesh recently, slamming senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh who had once issued high praise for Zakir Naik even going so far as to call him someone who can be a bridge between religions, despite Naik on a number of occasions in the past justifying terrorist acts all over the world.