Mumbai: Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who has been in the eye of the storm since the Dhaka terror attack, has now been accused of being involved in religious conversion.
Sources told Zee Media that Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) gave Rs 50,000 to those who converted to Islam.
Around 800 people are said to have been converted to Islam by his foundation.
Revelations are said to have been made by Arshi Qureshi, who was arrested from Navi Mumbai on July 21 by a joint team of Maharashtra ATS and Kerala Police for allegedly radicalising a Kochi-based woman.
Qureshi was picked up from his Navi Mumbai residence and placed under arrest in connection with a case registered in Kochi on July 17.
The case was registered, days after at least 21 youths from Kerala were reported missing and suspected to have joined Islamic State (ISIS), against Yahiya, the husband of Kochi-based Merin alias Mariyam, who went missing in the Middle East about a month ago, and Qureshi, on a complaint by her brother.
In his complaint with Palarivattom police station in Kochi, Merin’s brother had alleged that his sister was trapped and converted to Islam and radicalised by Yahiya, a Christian from Palakkad who had embraced Islam, and Qureshi during her stay in Mumbai in connection with her job last year, police had said.
However, in a statement, an IRF spokesperson had said on July 22 that Qureshi was a “Guest Relations Officer” with the organisation, but denied any “encouragement” on part of their staff to make anyone join terrorist organisation, ISIS.
“Dr Zakir Naik and IRF have repeatedly condemned ISIS for being anti-Islamic. No staff of IRF will ever encourage anyone to join ‘AISIS’ (Anti-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria),” the statement had said.
It is illegal to carry out religious conversions by force, inducements or fraud in many states, like Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai police is likely to submit its report to the state government soon on Naik, who is facing multiple probes over his alleged provocative speeches.
“The report is in the final stages of preparation and it is likely to be submitted by next week,” a high-ranked police official had said on July 22, as per PTI.
The official had added although they are yet to get in touch with Naik, the tele-evangelist has not been given a clean cheat yet.
“Police haven’t given a clean cheat to Naik yet,” he had said.
Naik, a Mumbai-based tele-evangelist, who also runs Peace TV, has been under scanner of various agencies after one of the attackers involved in the Dhaka terror strike posted he had been influenced by the preacher.
Last week, Naik held an interaction with the media in Mumbai via Skype from Saudi Arabia, wherein he had rubbished the charge his sermons had inspired terror activity, including the Dhaka attack.
He had also said he would not return to India this year.