MUMBAI: The Mumbai police probing the alleged provocative speeches of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, who is under the scanner of various Central agencies as well, has submitted its report to Maharashtra Home department, a senior official said today.
The report will now be vetted by the Home department and sent to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for further action, Principal Secretary (Home) Vijay Satbir Singh said. The Mumbai police was asked to probe Naik's past speeches available online, to see if any of them could have inspired youths to join terrorist organisations, amid reports that his preachings inspired some of those involved in Dhaka terror strike.
The city police was also conducting a joint inquiry (with other probe agencies) into the functioning of Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), to scrutinise the finances it has received from various parts of the world.
Naik, who is now abroad, has been facing heat over allegations of inspiring some of the Dhaka attackers through his speeches. There were media reports that "provocative" speeches had inspired some of the terrorists who carried out Bangladesh's worst terror attack at a cafe in Dhaka that left 22 people dead on July 1.
Naik had a lengthy interaction with Indian media via Skype from Saudi Arabia on July 15, rubbishing the charge that his sermons had inspired terror activity, including the Dhaka attack.
He has ruled out returning to India this year and claimed his remarks were "blown out of context" and that he has never inspired any terror activity. Stating that he is a "messenger of peace", Naik had also accused Indian media of running a trial against him by hyping on unverified reports and doctored clippings and statements being shown out of context.
Meanwhile, the city 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), a senior police official said today.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued against the backdrop of the report on the preacher submitted by Mumbai police to state Home department, the IRF said that 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.
The foundation said that neither Naik nor IRF have received any notice from the MHA or any government agency as of now, and hence they won't be able to comment on it.
"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," it said.
Naik emphasises on teachings of Islam which is "not unconstitutional" and preaching and propagating one's religion is allowed by Article 25 of the Constitution, it said. The IRF also said that conversion (of religion) has never been its objective.
"Conversion is not the objective of IRF. The organisation only spreads the message of Islam and clears misconceptions. This is fully permitted by our Constitution," it said. The statement also said IRF's Guest Relations Manager Arshid Qureshi never forced anyone to convert religion.
"Qureshi has never forced a single person into conversion against his or her free will, as it is against Islam. We emphatically deny all allegations," it said.
Notably, city police yesterday registered a case against Qureshi and three others, including two arrested earlier by Kerala police in connection with alleged ISIS recruitment, for alleged unlawful activities and criminal conspiracy.