Got ‘safe passage’ offer to India for Article 370 backing, claims Zakir Naik; Digvijaya seeks PM’s reply

Zakir Naik apologises to Malaysian people over racial remarks

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to Malaysia. (File)

Days after controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik claimed in a video message that the government offered him "safe passage" to India if he spoke in favour of the Article 370 abrogation move, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to come clean on the issue.

"The Prime Minister and Home Minister should refute these allegations. Otherwise, it will be believed that charges leveled by ‘traitor’ Zakir Naik are correct,” the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said in a series of tweets.

In a video message released last week, Naik, currently based in Malaysia, said he was approached by a representative of the Indian government who promised to drop money laundering charges against him and provide him a "safe passage" to India if he spoke in support of the Centre's move to scrap special status to J&K under Article 370.

"I 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 is seen saying in the video.

In another tweet, Digvijaya Singh said the revelations by Naik were "shocking". “The revelations by Zakir Naik are shocking. He rejected Modi’s offer. Zakir Naik, whom Modi and Shah have kept in the category of traitors, and are now brokering a deal. What is the strategy?” Singh further said.

Minutes after the Congress leader's tweet, a BJP spokesperson alleged that Zakir Naik was always supported by the Congress. In a retort, Singh called the allegations wrong.

"Congress never officially supported Dr. Zakir Naik. It is true I had addressed a Communal Harmony conference in Mumbai from his platform but you can go through his speech in that conference, at no point he made any communally sensitive statement," Singh said.

Naik, a 53-year-old radical preacher, left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency. The ED booked him in 2016 on an FIR filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The controversial preacher is wanted by authorities for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.