He was to hold a presser in Mumbai this week to 'clarify allegations against him', but not likely to return before 3-4 weeks, say sources
Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is currently under scanner of Indian security agencies for allegedly making inflammatory speeches, is likely not to return to India anytime soon.
The Islamic preacher was supposed to hold a press conference in Mumbai this week in order to "clarify allegations levelled against him", however, sources close to Naik confirmed to DNA that the Islamic preacher would at least take another three-four weeks before he returns.
According to the sources, Naik had left India for an Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the month of May, and was supposed to go to three African countries to deliver lectures. Officials working for the 51-year-old preacher said that Naik's itinerary was planned more that two months ago.
"Dr Naik left India a long time ago to perform Umrah, in fact, in April this year he was in Malaysia. Currently he is in Medina following which he would be traveling to Mecca and then finally to Jeddah as part of Umrah. After Dr. Naik has performed the pilgrimage, he is supposed to deliver lectures in three African countries, and then only he will be able to return to his home country. No investigating agencies have approached Dr Naik till now and if they do, we would certainly try our best to cut-short the visitations in Africa and co-operate with security agencies," said a close aide of the preacher.
The aide further went on to say that Zakir Naik's plans to travel through Africa were made earlier this year and had nothing to do with what had been reported about Dhaka attackers being influenced by the preachers speeches.
"Dr Naik was not supposed to return up until next month, but he had decided to clear the allegation leveled against him through a press conference. Due to time constraint the press conference was cancelled but Dr Naik then decided to interact with the media through skype. We had booked the Trident hotel in Mumbai for the presser, but due to so much negativity and aggression shown towards him by the media, Dr Naik decided it would be best to have a face-to-face interaction instead as he believed it is the only way to clear the air completely," the aide added.
Naik had come under the scanner of the Indian government after reports emerged that two among a group of attackers, who killed 22 in Dhaka café last week, were allegedly inspired by his speeches. The issue snowballed further when Ibrahim Yazdani, an ISIS suspect arrested by National Investigation Agency, during questioning revealed that he too used to listen to Dr Naik's speeches. DNA had earlier reported that Yazdani in year 2010, attended the annual peace conference of Dr Naik.
An NIA official speaking to DNA said that the agency is looking into reports of the preacher delivering alleged inflammatory speeches and action would be taken only if required. According to another senior NIA official, interrogation reports of about 38 suspected IS sympathisers and alleged operatives, who have been arrested from across the country in the last two years, are being re-examined by agency sleuths investigating these cases. This is to fish out a list of Muslim preachers mentioned by suspects during their interrogation.