Shaheen Nazar | Clarion India
NEW DELHI—A section of media has come out with “new details” about Khalid Saifi who is in detention for the last three months in connection with February’s Delhi riots. Media reports published during last 24 hours claim that investigations by Delhi Police’s Special Cell reveal Saifi’s links with Islamic preacher Zakir Naik who is in self-exile in Malaysia.
The investigations also revealed that former Congress municipal councilor Ishrat Jahan got funds from a suspicious route in Ghaziabad and other relatives in Maharashtra. Ishrat was also arrested by Delhi Police in March for her involvement in the Delhi riots case.
While Saifi is one of the founders of United Against Hate, an organisation tracking hate crimes, Ishrat is former Congress councillor from Delhi. Delhi Police arrested both of them the day the anti-CAA protest site at Khureji in northeast Delhi was pulled apart by the police, while communal violence ravaged northeast Delhi, on 26 February.
Those following the Delhi riots cases say that the latest piece of information is not at all a revelation. “Delhi Police has already made these allegations against Saifi and Ishrat Jahan in court hearing on June 15 while seeking extension in custody of the two,” one of the lawyers of Saifi told Clarion India. The application filed by the police said the following about Saifi’s meeting with Naik:
“The passport and travel details of the accused confirm that accused Khalid (Saifi) travelled outside India and met persons including fugitive Zakir Naik in order to get support/funds for spreading his agenda.”
Online news portal The Quint, while reporting the court proceeding, said in its publication dated June 17 that it reached out to Dr Zakir Naik through his lawyer advocate Mubin Solkar and the preacher has denied knowing or meeting Khalid Saifi. “Dr Naik is not aware who is Khalid (Saifi). He has not met him on a personal level. Dr Naik meets thousands of people who even click photos/selfies with him. Any attempt to link Dr Naik to the accused is mala fide and motivated.”
The Quint also reached out to Saifi’s lawyer, Harsh Bora, who told The Quint that “these allegations were baseless”. Other than reaching out to both sides, The Quint also spoke to an eyewitness who was present at an international conference held in Malaysia where Saifi had publicly criticised Zakir Naik.
“I clearly recall Mr Saifi spoke against Zakir Naik and said that he cannot be considered a representative of Indain Muslims,” one of the delegates at the conference told The Quint, on condition of anonymity. The conference which was held in Malaysia, where Zakir Naik has been residing for the past few years, was about Palestine and was held in March-April of 2019.
Saifi’s lawyer Clarion India spoke to referred to his wife’s recent interviews wherein she too refuted the allegation. The lawyer said the Delhi Police was planting stories which are already in public domain just to counter the positive image that has been portrayed in recent media coverage of his efforts for maintaining peace and communal harmony.
The lawyer spoke to Clarion India on condition of anonymity. It may be noted that no one associated with Saifi or other detainees of Delhi riots want to talk to media. The way anti-CAA protesters have been implicated in Delhi riots and the kind of charges framed against them has a damning effect on human rights defenders and student leaders in Delhi. Most of them are wary of talking to media. They even ignore calls coming from unknown numbers lest it is from police or intelligence personnel.