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Zakir Naik has no Plans to Return to India for a year, but says he is Not Running Away

Zakir Naik has been in the Indian news for quite some time now, due to his controversial religious speeches.

Dr. Zakir Naik. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
  • Zakir Naik is a controversial Muslim Preacher who is in news now for allegedly inciting killing and violence in the name of Islam.
  • Naik has often been in the news, primarily because of his speeches and their content.
  • But he says that he is a messenger of peace and does not mean to harm innocent people.

“I did not inspire any terrorists. Suicide bombings targeting innocent people are condemnable. My statements have been taken out of context. I am a messenger of peace,” said Zakir Naik to the reporters after his Peace TV channel got banned in Bangladesh.

Naik in the news. Image Source : youtube
Naik in the news. Image Source : youtube

According to him, his statements on terrorism and suicide bombings reported by the Indian media were “tampered and doctored.” He had applied for permission from Indian authorities to air Peace TV through his Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in 2008, but the request was denied “possibly because the channel was Islamic.”

“I am not running away. As per my travel plans, I am supposed to come to India by next year, not before that,” Naik said. Even though Naik said he had not been contacted by any Indian investigating agency, Mumbai-based intelligence sources told BenarNews that all angles related to the televangelist, including his speeches, were being probed.

PM Modi had said “preachers of hate and violence are threatening the fabric of our society”, with reference to Zakir Naik. Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has also hinted at his agitation against Naik due to his inappropriate speeches.

After the IS attack  on Bangladesh, India had been feeling threatened. The heat on Naik is coming during a heightened sense of a threat from the Islamic State (IS)  in India following the attack in the Bangladeshi capital, which killed 29 people, including an Indian hostage.

Until recently, New Delhi had denied that the Middle East-based terror outfit had any significant presence in India, but officials on Friday confirmed that the Dhaka attack had forced security agencies to make “certain procedural changes.”

Aftermath of Dhaka Attack. Image Source :
Aftermath of Dhaka Attack. Image Source :

“Naturally, security has been enhanced [after the Dhaka attack]. Several checks have been instituted along the Indo-Bangla border to prevent intruders into our cantonments and protect installations,” Wing Commander S.S. Birdi, spokesman for the defense ministry in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh, told BenarNews.

Bangladesh, after the Dhaka Attack, is still in mourning and wishes to make certain things clear to its scarred people. In Bangladesh, authorities on Friday moved to regulate weekly sermons in mosques across the Muslim-majority country amid a stepped-up campaign to combat Islamist extremism.

The state-run Islamic Foundation has prepared and delivered a sermon to more than 300,000 mosques in the country. It invokes verses from the Quran to prevent Bangladeshis from joining the path of radicalism, foundation chief Shamim Mohammad Afzal told Agence France-Presse.

“It is not mandatory, but we hope imams will follow our sermon or take inspiration from it,” Afzal said to Benar News, adding, “Our core message is [that] there is no place for terrorism in Islam. We want to make sure our children cannot be brainwashed to commit an act of terrorism.”

Meanwhile in India, Indian security agencies have made at least two IS-linked arrests since the Dhaka attack.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested a civil contractor, identified as Naser Yafai Chaus, 31, who hails from the Parbhani district of Maharashtra state, on Thursday.

While the department would not confirm the basis for Chaus was arrested, sources said he allegedly had contact with an IS handler in Syria.

On Tuesday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed to have arrested Naimathullah Hussaini alias Abu Darda from Hyderabad, alleging that he was involved in recruiting youngsters from the south Indian city for the IS.

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More than 40 suspected IS operatives have been arrested in India since the formation of the terror outfit in 2014.

At least 23 Indians have left for Iraq and Syria to fight alongside the IS, which has called Hindu-majority India an enemy nation in its propaganda material, according to intelligence agencies.

However, the figure could be higher, analysts warned after reports emerged that 21 Muslims missing from different districts of south India’s Kerala state over the last month may have joined the IS.

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D.C. Pathak, former chief of India’s Intelligence Bureau, told BenarNews that the IS threat to India was real.

“They have come near our homes. They are knocking at our door,” Pathak said in reference to the recent Dhaka attack. “It is time to fend it with vigour.”

Moushumi Basu of the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the Indian government should acknowledge IS a threat.

“[The government] has to take stock of the situation. It has to chalk out a proper plan to prevent Indian youth from joining such radical outfits. It has to identify and focus on resolving the issues driving our youngsters to join jihad or other forms of extremism. Simply a backlash from a recent terror attack or a knee-jerk reaction won’t solve the problem,” she added. (Benar News)

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Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

FILE - Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

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Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.