Interpol has yet again refused to issue a Red Corner Notice against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik citing lack of evidence and any proof of wrongdoing. A press release by Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) said that the international police organisation also instructed its offices to delete all data on him from its files. The decision was taken by the Interpol’s Commission in its 109th session held on 1 to 5 July 2019. Subsequently, all data pertaining to him was deleted from the Interpol General Secretariat on 15 July 2019.
Interpol's decision comes as a setback to the Indian government which has been persistently trying to get the international police to issue a red corner notice against the Islamic preacher. This is the third failed attempt of the Indian government in convincing the Interpol of criminal charges against Naik. In the last twelve months, India is believed to have had multiple meetings with Interpol team in New Delhi over the issue.
In a letter addressed to Naik, the Interpol’s Commission Secretariat stated that “after a thorough examination of the elements before it, the Commission found that the data (read “charges”) challenged raised questions as to compliance with applicable rules”. The statement implies that the charges and allegations against Naik were unsubstantiated and vague, and the Indian authorities had failed to follow the due process of Interpol’s rules of charges and proof submission.
The session was listening to the charges made by India through the NCB of India against Naik of “promoting enmity between two different religious groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony, being a member of unlawful Association etc."
The Indian government, through the MHA had banned Naik and his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in November 2016. Following the ban, all the operations of IRF were stopped, and all the staff relieved of their duties.
This is the third instance of Interpol refusing or cancelling the Indian government’s demand for red corner notice against Dr. Naik. The first time was over two years ago when it canceled the provisional RCN as the Indian government failed to produce charges and evidence. The second time was when the Indian government submitted a chargesheet to the Interpol in late 2017. A year later and despite pressure from the Indian government throughout 2018, the Interpol refused to issue an RCN for the same reasons. The addition of money laundering charges to the charge sheet does not seem to have impacted Interpol’s latest decision.