A 2012 video showing Congress leader Digvijay Singh sharing dais with controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and praising him surfaced today, triggering a slugfest between the BJP and the Congress.
Singh, who was seen praising Zakir in the video, defended himself, saying if there was any evidence against the preacher, then the Indian and Bangladeshi governments should take action against him.
“I have appealed for communal harmony and opposed religious fundamentalism and terrorism by either Hindus or Muslims,” the Congress leader said.
In a series of tweets, Singh also said, “My speech at conference organised by Zakir Naik is being shown…
“The conference was for Communal Harmony and against Terrorism. Also to explain that Islam is against Innocents being killed.”
He further said, “if GOI or the Govt of Bangladesh has any evidence against Zakir Naik’s involvement with ISIS they should take action against him.”
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Zakir has come under the government’s scrutiny after reports emerged that one of the terrorists involved in Dhaka attack followed his preachings.
However, BJP was quick to target Singh and also demanded action against Zakir, saying he was a “threat” to national security as it was clear from his speeches that he “incited” people.
“Terrorism is enemy of humanity. Anybody who directly or indirectly abets it is guilty. People like him (Zakir) are a threat to our national security. Government agencies should decide on action against him under the existing legal system. It is clear that he incited people,” party national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Citing Singh’s comments, Sharma said, “It is in Congress’ character to politicise and glorify terrorism. Its leaders used terms like Hafiz saab and Osama ji for terrorists.
“They questioned the sacrifice of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in Batla House encounter and claimed their president Sonia Gandhi cried whole night over the killings (of terrorists) in the encounter.”
Responding to BJP’s attack, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said there was no place in Indian society for obscurantist and extremist thoughts and Congress party has always fought the forces of hate and division which have threatened India’s integrity.
Attacking Congress, BJP said people have punished it for its “politicisation” of terrorism while the NDA government has adopted zero tolerance to terrorism.
Targeting Naik, Sharma said he is not a ‘naik’ but “khalnayak” (villain).
“Whether it is Naik or Asaduddin Owaisi, they have been found inciting and helping terrorism by one means or another. They are playing with national security and betraying the country,” he said.
BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao also targeted Congress, accusing it of “politicising” terrorism and sympathising with terrorists but not security personnel as he referred to the Batla House encounter case.