Clarifying against the allegations of being a lobbyist for controversial Islamic speaker Zakir Naik, Congress leader K. Rahman Khan said on Sunday that the BJP is simply trying to politicize the issue as he had at the time forwarded the CD to the concerned ministry and not handled the matter himself.
At a press conference yesterday, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Khan, who was former Minority Affairs Minister, wrote a letter to then I&B Minister Manish Tewari in February 2013 in which he termed Naik as a “renowned Islamic scholar” and sought the government’s protection for him from campaigns run by a regional channel and a Hindu group.
Quoting from Khan’s letter to Tewari, Prasad said that Khan had accused some news agencies of projecting Naik as a sympathiser of terrorism and sought action from him “to prevent any confrontation between communities and flaring up of communal sentiments”.
“I received a letter along with some CD alleging that a particular channel has made serious allegations against our trust, which are all false. So I forwarded that letter along with the CD to the concerned ministry which was Information and Broadcasting,” Khan told ANI when asked what action he took after receiving the CD from Naik’s foundation.
“When I get a complaint, I don’t go into the complaint or examine the complaint. It is for the (concerned) ministry to examine it. BJP is trying to politicise the issue,” he added.
He further said that anything related to the matter is to be clarified and the party spokesperson will do so. He added that Naik’s foundation, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has a Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence, which is issued only after receiving clearance from the intelligence agencies.
So, there was no reason to believe otherwise. Prasad yesterday also questioned the Congress as to how the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received a sum of Rs. 50 lakhs from Naik in 2011. Prasad said leaders like former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, P. Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Suman Dubey, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Ashok Ganguly etc., were associated with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation back in 2011.
A few days ago, four officials, including a joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs were suspended for renewing the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act registration of Naik’s NGO despite of an ongoing investigation against him.
Naik is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He was also accused of radicalising and attracting youths for terror acts and has come under the scanner of the security agencies. This happened after the Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ stated that one of the attackers of the July 1 terror strike in Dhaka ran propaganda on Facebook quoting Naik.
Naik is popular in Bangladesh through Peace TV which is owned, run and managed by his Islamic Research Foundation.