Arshi Qureshi was guest relations manager at the banned Islamic Research Foundation
Arshi Qureshi was guest relations manager at the banned Islamic Research Foundation

Arshi Qureshi - alleged IS recruiter and a close aide of controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik - allegedly tried to influence the religious views of a TV director but failed.

Also read: Zakir Naik fears arrest, wants ED to send questions

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had last week filed a 5,000-page chargesheet alleging that Qureshi and wanted accused Abdul Rashid Abdulla (an HOD in Peace International School in Kasargod, Kerala) radicalised 22 youths and helped them to join IS last June.

The chargesheet also included the statement of Worli-based TV director Shahid Munniruddin Sayed (48), as an example of how Qureshi tried to influence others with his orthodox beliefs.

Sayed started out as an assistant director in Bombay Talkies production house in 1995, and has since gone to work at top channels such as Star TV, Zee TV, B4U and MTV. In November 2011, he was called by Harmony Media Private Ltd, which manages Dr Naik's Peace TV, to shoot some promos for their speakers.

'Haraam'
During this work, Sayed met Qureshi, who was guest relations manager at IRF and used to directly report to Dr Naik. Sayed and Qureshi had an argument over wearing a tabeez or amulet. In his statement to the police on December 23, Sayed recalled, "I had a minor altercation with him on the issue of wearing of an amulet. He told me that wearing a tabeez is haraam in Islam. I told him to mind his own business and that I would take care of my Islam."

This incident was reported to the administrative manager of IRF, Manzoor Shaikh, following which Qureshi was warned not to argue with any staffers. When contacted, Sayed refused to comment on the matter.

Rebuffed before
Qureshi's aggressive approach to Islam had displeased others in the past as well. Once, it even landed him in hospital. Former administrative executive of IRF Maqbool Barwelkar, in his statement to NIA, said that in 2013, Arshi was attacked on his head and was hospitalised for 11 days. Barwelkar suspected that Arshi was attacked due to an argument he had with some people outside a mosque in Dongri, when he asked some youngsters to remove their amulets.

While there were times when Qureshi was rebuffed, he also managed to radicalise quite a few people with his extreme ideology, which included his belief that non-believers should be put to death.

A key witness from Kerala had told the Mumbai Crime Branch that Qureshi, during various meetings with youths at his Vashi house, would say that India is a land of kafirs (non-believers) and that warranted a change.

"Non-believers of Islam would bring Anti-Christ (Dajjal, or one who brings end of the world). So he stated that it was upon the Muslim world to eradicate the non-believers, that is, kill or revert them to Islam before it is too late," the key witness stated to the police. This witness had earlier fallen prey to Qureshi's ideology and opted to convert to Islam. However, he later changed his mind, backed out of the conversion, returned home and cut off all contact from Qureshi.