In a setback to Indian agencies, the Interpol has refused to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Islamic preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik, citing lack of a formal charge-sheet against the Mumbai-based televangelist when the request was submitted. The agency has also instructed all related bureaus and member countries to delete the data file of Dr. Naik from its records.
An Interpol letter, dated December 11, could prove to be a major roadblock for India’s attempt to extradite him.
The Interpol issues a red notice to locate and provisionally arrest individuals pending extradition, and is based on an arrest warrant by a member country.
Dr Naik fled India after he was accused of influencing terrorists involved in the terror strike in Dhaka on July 1, 2016. According to reports, Dr. Naik took refuge in Malaysia after obtaining permanent residency there.
The 51-year-old televangelist, through a video message, said, 'I am relieved after the order of the Interpol for cancellation of the notice. However, I would be much more relieved if my own government and Indian agencies give me justice and clear me of all charges.'
He further went on to say that 'truth has a fantastic way of coming out. It came out internationally and it would be out soon in India too'.
The decision to not issue an RCN against Dr. Naik was taken by the Interpol’s Commission in its 102nd session held on October 24-27.
Dr. Naik is accused of spreading hatred through his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years. Following the charges, the National Investigation Agency in November last year registered a criminal case against him. His Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has also been proscribed.
The Indian authorities approached the Interpol for a red notice against Dr. Naik, but he had challenged it, contending that the process of law was not followed. He contended that there was a severe lack of evidentiary basis, a failure by Indian authorities to follow the due process of law, that political and religious bias formed the basis of such a notice, and lack of international interest.
Indian authorities, however, contested this claim and submitted that his organisation, IRF, had been declared as unlawful and during investigation enough evidence had been gathered against Dr. Naik. The agency, however, admitted that no charge-sheet was filed at the time of submitting the request.
'Since we have filed the formal charge-sheet against Zakir Naik now, a fresh request for issuance of Red Corner Notice (RCN) will be submitted to Interpol again shortly. We are hopeful of getting the notice issued against Naik now,' said an NIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.