Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has come under fire from the BJP after a video of his, sharing the dais with controvertial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, went viral.
The video, in which Singh is being seen heaping praises and lauding Zakir Naik, dates back to 2012. Singh had attended a conference which was organised by Zakir Naik, who has been in the news for allegedly inspiring attackers who carried out the gruesome Dhaka Cafe attack where 24 people were killed and 40 wounded.
The BJP has strongly condemned Singh's actions for having shared the stage with Naik. "Congress party's sympathies are always with terrorist organisations. So, this is not surprising for us," BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
In the video Singh is heard saying,
"I am grateful to Zakir Naik. Haven’t ever got an opportunity to address such a huge audience. I am happy to see him spread the message of peace to the world."
Singh has admitted to having attended the conference but defended himself by saying he spoke out against communal violence. He further added that had Naik said anything wrong back then, the government should immoderately start a probe.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Naik said, "It is totally illogical to say that I promote terrorism. Not a single investigative agency says Dr Zakir Naik promotes terrorism. The Home Ministry is most welcome to go through all my speeches,".
On the Dhaka cafe attack he said:
"I inspire many people because I have a large following. These people might have been inspired by me but I don’t know them personally. I fear media and politicians because they might malign my image. There are people who are using my photographs and misquoting me to defame me. I welcome any investigation against me."
Naik, who is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches and is the president of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), had categorically denied having made any speech where he had urged Muslims to become terrorists.
Naik, who is very popular in Bangaldesh through his Peace TV, has often been found demeaning other religions and even other Muslim sects. Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper had reported that Rohan Imtiaz, one of the suspects in the Bangladesh attack had run a propaganda in Facebook last year quoting Naik.