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Zakir Naik ‘indicted’ by Mumbai police in ‘unlawful activities’: Devendra Fadnavis

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New Delhi: Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has been “indicted” by Mumbai Police which found him to be allegedly involved in unlawful activities with possible terror links, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

Fadnavis said a watertight case is being prepared against the Islamic televangelist, whose organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is also under the scanner, and efforts would be made to extradite him. Naik is currently abroad.

The Mumbai Police, tasked with probing his alleged provocative controversial speeches, submitted its report today to the State Government. Police were asked to probe Naik’s speeches available online to see if any of them could have encouraged youths to join terrorist groups amid reports that his preachings inspired some of those involved in the Dhaka terror strike. “The report has made observations about him (Naik) making (critical) comments on other religion and belittling them – an action that would cause disharmony in society. The report also has details of countries that have banned him or his organisations.

“The Government is examining the report which have several aspects that are in the domain of the Centre,” Fadnavis told reporters here.

The report will be sent to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and further action will be taken as per its guidance, said Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio.

“There are many revelations in the report about illegal and unlawful activities (allegedly involving Naik and IRF) and activities which are not in interest of the nation.

“The report has shed light on aspects like his relation with Firoz Deshmukh (a terror accused). It also talks about its links with Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front of Pak-based terror outfit LeT) and Indian Mujahedeen and other activities that are illegal,” he said.

Fadnavis said the Police Department has given various proofs against the 50-year-old Mumbai-based physician-turned- preacher, who is currently abroad. “Prima facie, there have been violations (of rules). The report has indicted Zakir Naik and his organisation,” he said.

Asked what steps the Government would take if Naik refuses to return to India, Fadnavis said, “There is zero tolerance policy toward terror across the world. And besides, we have extradition treaties with almost every country. If needed, the Centre would take help from foreign Governments to extradite him.”

Mumbai Police had also been conducting a joint inquiry (with other probe agencies) into the functioning of Naik- founded IRF to scrutinise the finances it has received from various parts of the world. Naik had a lengthy interaction with Indian media via Skype (an Internet-based communication service) from Saudi Arabia on July 15, where he rubbished the charge his sermons had inspired terror activities, including the July 1 terror attack on a bakery in the Bangladeshi capital.

Stating that he is a “messenger of peace”, Naik had accused Indian media of running a trial against him by highlighting “unverified” reports and “doctored” clippings and showing his statements out of context.

Meanwhile, in a statement IRF said all allegations levelled against Naik were “false and baseless”.

“IRF is not privy to the Police Commissioner’s report, but from reports put across in the media, IRF wants to reiterate that the allegations are false and baseless. Dr Zakir Naik firmly believes in promoting peace and harmony and has been doing that for decades,” it said.

“IRF is a research body that promotes greater awareness of Islam and its tenets. Dr Zakir Naik is an expert in comparative religion and has been conducting well- researched talks on Islam and other religions across the world,” the release said.

In a related development, Mumbai Police yesterday registered a case against an IRF employee and three others, including two arrested earlier by Kerala Police in connection with alleged ISIS recruitment case in the southern state. They have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

Talking about the FIR registered by Nagpada Police Station, a senior police official today said a complaint was filed by the father of a youth (who left India to allegedly join ISIS) against four people, based on which which they were booked under UAPA and IPC.

Those named in the FIR are Arshid Qureshi, an IRF employee, Rizwan Khan and two others. Qureshi and Khan have already been arrested by Kerala Police. The complainant alleged his son was brainwashed by the accused which led him to join ISIS terror group, he said. The inquiry in the matter is being conducted by Mumbai Crime Branch, the officer added.

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