Zakir Naik row: Govt. interested in media management, says Congress

New Delhi: Congress veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar on Monday alleged that the BJP-led NDA regime has raised the Zakir Naik episode for mere publicity and dubbed the entire sequence of events to be shameful as the video in question is four years old.

Aiyar asked as to why the government did not initiate any action against Naik when they have been receiving intelligence reports and information about the latter for the last 18 months.

“This government seems to have forgotten the fact that they are in power for the last two-and-a-half years. They still are of the view that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls are going on.It is all over and you have won; now it’s time to run the government,” he told ANI.

Aiyar said the government is only interested in media management and attaining political advantages.

“Even on issues of national security, the government tends to seek political advantages and glamor in media channels, which is a matter of shame,” Aiyar said.

Stating that Naik has been talking of peace and brotherhood, the Congress leader said the government shifted its focus towards him only when his name cropped up in Bangladesh.

“The government has raised this issue for mere publicity. Instead of working towards resolving national and economic matters, the government is more focused on hyping up this matter for political gains. And they are not serious about the security issues that pose a threat to the country,” Aiyar said.

“Until and unless they work peacefully and send a message of communal harmony, the matters of security and terrorism will not settle down,” he added.

Aiyar’s remark came as several Muslim activists and the Indian Union Muslim League came out in Naik’s support saying the “advocate of peace theory in Islam” is being harassed for no “valid reason”.

Former Mumbai Police commissioner and now Baghpat MP Satyapal Singh had said in a recent interview that there was an event of mass religious conversion by Naik in 2008 but the then Congress-led UPA regime didn’t act against the hard-line preacher on the basis of his report.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Government has banned the broadcasting of Naik’s Peace TV channel following reports that some of the terrorists, who carried out the country’s worst terror attack at a cafe in Dhaka, were inspired by his speeches.

Naik earlier on Saturday sought support from the Muslim community against what he called was a “media trial” over allegedly provocative statements promoting militant views that have triggered calls for his arrest.

Introducing a new Twitter handle — @drzakirofficial – the Mumbai-based preacher also appealed to people around the world to “eliminate terrorism from our midst”.

Naik, a popular but controversial Islamic orator and founder of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, is banned in UK and Canada for his hate speeches.

He is among the 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. (ANI)