KUALA LUMPUR: A court in India has issued a second non-bailable warrant of arrest against controversial preacher Zakir Naik.
Indian authorities want to question him in connection with his alleged role in a terror-related case and over money laundering allegations.
The Special Court in Mumbai issued the warrant yesterday following an application by India’s National Investigations Agency (NIA), The Indian Express reported.
Last week, another court, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Special Court, had issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik in a money-laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate, after he failed to appear before it.
The NIA on Thursday told special judge V V Patil that Naik had been staying abroad to evade arrest.
Naik is currently in Malaysia. He was given permanent resident status by the Malaysian government about five years ago.
According to the Indian Express report, the NIA claimed its investigations had revealed that Naik had been “encouraging and aiding” his followers through his public speeches, lectures and talks to promote disharmony between different religious communities and groups.
The court was told that Naik had not responded to three notices sent to him to be present for questioning. The three summonses were over cases filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against him last year.
According to a NDTV report, the NIA said it would seek the help of Interpol to take Naik back to India from abroad.
The report said following the terror attacks in Dhaka last year, where one of the attackers had reportedly claimed to have been influenced by Naik, the NIA had filed a case against Naik and other officials of his Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
Naik was on a tour abroad at that time and had since not returned to India allegedly to evade arrest under various charges, including inspiring terrorist activities and money-laundering, according to the report.
Last December, the government had declared IRF as a terror outfit.
Naik, whose presence in Malaysia has been opposed by several groups who say his teachings and statements will divide multi-religious Malaysia, has claimed that he would not get a fair trial in India.
Malaysians only came to know that Naik had been given permanent resident status on Tuesday, following pressure from Hindraf and others and the filing of a court case.
Nineteen people, including Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy and lawyer Siti Kasim, recently filed a suit against the government for allegedly harbouring Naik.
The 19 claimed in their suit that the preacher, who is a citizen of India, was capable of threatening national security and harmony.
However, some Muslim groups in Malaysia are supportive of him, with Malay pressure group Perkasa saying the Malaysian government’s decision to grant permanent resident status to Naik was justified.
He said today that it was Putrajaya’s right to protect Naik. Ibrahim even likened it to the French government granting political asylum in 1978 to the late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini who had fled persecution by the Shah’s regime.