Zakir Naik has confirmed that he was offered safe passage to India by the ruling BJP government in exchange for his support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown in Kashmir.
Naik said he had met a representative of the Indian government in late September last year who was “under direct instructions” from Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
“He said that he wanted to remove the misconceptions and the miscommunication that were there between myself and the Indian government and it was to provide me a safe passage to India.
“Imagine, the same BJP government that hounded me for the last three-and-a-half years; the same person, the prime minister of India, who used my name no less than nine times in a span of less than two minutes in his election speech in May 2019.
“Now they are bartering with me for a safe passage? It’s too straight to be true,” he said in a video.
Naik said he could not support acts of injustice as revoking Article 370, giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was unconstitutional, and that it would be a betrayal of the people of Kashmir.
He said he was warned not to speak out against Modi by the prime minister’s representative, although he was allowed to do so against various government agencies.
“I told him that they are not to blame, they are just following their political bosses and are being forced to do what they’re doing.
“And I’m not here to speak against any government, I’m a da’i (missionary) who’s bringing the messages of Islam. As long as they do not do injustice to human beings and to Muslims, why should I speak against them?”
Naik also advised Muslim leaders in India to speak up against injustice, saying that supporting any unjust acts was “un-Islamic”.
He said this in response to statements by Indian Muslim leaders who had openly supported the BJP government for revoking Article 370, adding that it was evident that some were pressured and blackmailed to do so.
“If you fear backlash and you’re afraid, the least you can do is keep quiet. You’re bartering your seat in heaven for your security in the world. Is not God enough for His servant?” he said.
Yesterday, a Pakistani-American Muslim academic claimed the BJP government had offered to drop money laundering charges against Naik if he supported Modi’s crackdown in Kashmir.
Yasir Qadhi said BJP had sent an envoy to meet Naik with the offer, adding that it showed the Indian government did not have a real case against the televangelist.
Naik is wanted in India to face money laundering charges. The country’s Enforcement Directorate has accused him of acquiring about Rs1.9 billion (RM114.5 million) worth of criminal assets and is also seeking to have him declared a fugitive economic offender.
Naik, who has permanent resident status in Malaysia, has denied the charges, saying they were part of the Indian government’s attempt to silence him.
He had said he is prepared to return to fight the charges in court in India on condition he would not be arrested until he is found guilty.
Putrajaya has so far resisted India’s request to extradite Naik, with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying the preacher would not get a fair trial under the Modi administration. – FMT