Controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik has claimed that the Narendra Modi government approached him in September last year through an envoy. Naik claimed the Modi government offered to provide him "safe passage" to India if he spoke in support of the government's move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Naik has been in self-imposed exile in Malaysia since 2016.
Naik made the claim in a video, which was circulated in response to a post on Facebook by Yasir Qadhi, another Islamic scholar. Qadhi, who is dean of the Islamic Seminary of America, met Naik on January 9 and uploaded a post on Facebook. Qadhi wrote, “... the BJP government sent Dr Zakir an envoy saying that if he supported Modi’s campaign against Kashmir the government would drop all charges and reinstate his assets and allow him to return to India. This shows that there is no real case against him and it’s all politically motivated."
Naik claimed he was approached by scores of journalists about the Facebook post. In the video, Naik claimed three-and-half months ago, "Indian officials approached me for a private meeting with a representative from the Indian government". Naik claimed that the representative said he was coming following "direct instructions" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Naik said the representative claimed he wants to remove "misconceptions and miscommunication" between him and the Indian government and he wanted to "provide me safe passage to India".
Naik said the representative sought his "connections" to better India's ties to Muslim nations and the meeting lasted several hours. Naik said the representative wanted him to support the BJP government on the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which was done in August.
"I flatly refused; I said,...'revoking Article 370 in Kashmir is unconstitutional and it is taking away the rights of the people of Kashmir'. I cannot support an act of injustice and neither can I betray the people of Kashmir,” Naik declared.
Naik said the representative then said he has "no problem" if I speak against any government agency such as the NIA, police or Enforcement Directorate, "But I should not specifically speak against the BJP government and Prime Minister Modi.” Naik told the representative that the agencies were following their political bosses.
Naik then referred to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and criticised "many Muslim leaders" for supporting the National Register of Citizens. He alleged these Muslim leaders may have been "blackmailed, pressurised and forced to support the unjust BJP government or face dire consequences".
Naik concluded the video with a message for the Muslims of India that supporting an "unjust act" is "un-Islamic" and was "bartering their place in paradise for security in the world".
(With inputs from Namrata Biji Ahuja)