The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the opposition Congress Party, yesterday alleged there was an aggressive move to curtail freedom to propagate one’s religion enshrined in the Constitution.
The party said the “propaganda” that IS terrorist recruits from India were influenced by leading preacher Dr Zakir Naik was part of this move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
There were reports that Naik’s speeches influenced some of the Bangladeshi militants who killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upscale restaurant early this month. The Bangladesh government also banned Naik’s Peace TV channel yesterday.
“This is part of the (Indian) government’s move to make propagation of one’s religion impossible. Everybody who believes in religious freedom should react to this,” IUML general secretary E T Mohamed Basheer, a lawmaker and former minister, said.
He also played a video clipping in which Naik was seen describing the IS as anti-Islamic and those who kill innocent people as anti-Muslim.
“None will kill innocent people and those who do it cannot be Muslims,” Naik says in a recorded video.
Basheer also distributed copies of the Malayalam translation of Naik’s book Stop Terrorism.
Naik’s name was linked to the alleged recruitment of 17 people, including five women and two children, from Kerala, by the IS. Their parents received messages from them last week saying they were with the IS where “Islamic Shariah is implemented completely.”
Meanwhile, police said they were investigating the role of a Kochi-based group in indoctrinating the young men and women, all in their early 20s.
They are also looking into the possibility of them joining a spiritual centre in Sri Lanka where they lead a spartan life.
The police are yet to confirm the missing people’s whereabouts or make any public statement except that they could not confirm any terrorist links to the disappearance.
However, the relatives suspect they are already in an IS territory as stated in the text and voice messages which have a political tone rather than spiritual.
The missing people are mostly from Kasargode in northern Kerala.
Kasargode police chief Thomson Jose said they have registered two cases.
“What we are told is there are 17 people missing from Kasargode. We have also come to know that officials from central agencies are also here. We will now register more cases in the coming days,” he said.
Meanwhile, former home minister and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said yesterday all missing people cannot be linked to the IS.
“Just because they are missing does not mean they all have joined the IS,” he said.
According to reports, most of the missing appeared to have had close links with 35-year-old Abdul Rasheed, an engineer by profession who has been missing since May.
Another person reported missing is a medical doctor, Ijaz Ahamed, who got his medical degree from China and till recently worked in a hospital near Kozhikode.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that reports on the missing people, including women, was a serious matter and that the police were doing their job.
Rightwing activists stage a demonstration against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Mumbai. Naik is under the scanner following revelations that two of the five young militants who massacred 22 people at a popular cafe in Dhaka drew their inspiration from his speeches.