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RANCHI: Congress MLA from Jamtara Irfan Ansari has triggered a new debate by openly supporting controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. Unwilling to admit if he has been a follower of his preaching, Ansari told media person at Jharkhand assembly on Thursday that Naik is a learned scholar and there are many followers of him. “Hindu preacher and Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev could be tainted but not Naik,” he said.

The issue was raised by Sahebganj MLA Anant Ojha during the question hour on penultimate day of ongoing monsoon session at a time when the opposition was otherwise creating ruckus over issues like amendment to CNT and SPT Acts and government’s reluctance to order a probe into the alleged irregularities of recently held Rajya Sabha elections.

Ojha said that in Sahebganj and Pakur various Islamic socio political organisations under the banner of Popular front of India had come out in open support of Naik and Asaddudin Owaisi despite the fact that Naik was named to have influenced two of the militants who were responsible for triggering blasts in Bangladesh. “At a time when the Centre has assured cooperation with Bangladesh government in looking into the credentials of Naik and his alleged influence on the militants, any support in public life amounts to supporting anti-social elements,” he argued seeking attention of the government towards controlling the situation in districts bordering Bangladesh.

Ojha also pointed out that the protest marches organised in Pakur and Sahebganj were carried out without informing or seeking permission from the local administration which generates suspicion. Despite demonstrating warm bonhomie outside assembly premises by hugging each other, Ojha said that if Congress MLA Ansari is supporting Naik, separate probe must be initiated to find if he has links with the Islamic preacher. “There could be many who are influenced by religious speeches of religious leaders but once the role of any leader comes under scanner with potential to influence militants who have masterminded violence anywhere, those having links should also be cross checked,” he said.