The controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik, has filed a Rs 500-crores defamation notice against Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in what Naik calls a ‘media trial’ with ‘malicious intent’ of defaming him according to a report in Firstpost.
The notice comprises largely of the statements that Goswami had made during his weekly night news show ‘The NewsHour’ on the Times Now channel.
“My client states that without verifying facts and without having any positive and/or cogent evidence in support, you have recklessly and callously, with deliberate and malicious intention made and published on the television the aforesaid false, defamatory and damaging remarks against my client, which have severely harmed my
client’s impeccable reputation,” reads the notice.
The notice asks Goswami to ‘furnish in writing’ the evidence with which he made his statements, withdraw his remarks, tender an unconditional apology and finally pay a sum of Rs 500 crores for causing Naik ‘mental trauma and agony.’
It had come to light in the recent terror attack in Bangladesh that Naik’s statements and public speeches allegedly inspired one of the individuals to commit terrorist acts and provoke violence.
Senior officials in Mumbai Police have gone on record in media reports that many of Naik’s speeches are objectionable in nature and ‘capable of influencing vulnerable minds.’
More recently, Naik’s employee, Arshi Qureshi, who was attached with his trust, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was arrested by the Kerala police. The grounds of arrest were of radicalising Merin alias Mariyam, a Pallakad-based youth to join Islamic State (IS).
Many who support IS alongwith former terror detainees have also acknowledged in the past to have been influenced by the sermons Naik makes.
Naik, however, has brushed aside these allegations saying he was also being quoted ‘out of context’ and that he has never supported terrorist attacks of any kind. Naik is currently not in India and has addressed the media only through video conferencing.