Zakir Naik, the controversial televangelist accused of radicalizing youth for terror activities has been formally charged by the National Investigation Agency. He has been accused of making subversive speeches. He has been formally charged by NIA under the stringent anti-terror law. The NIA probe also linked 19 land and building worth Rs. 104 crores to Zakir Naik. The NIA said in its charge sheet that it was still inquiring into the sourcing of funds for these properties.
The 51-year-old Islamic preacher had fled India in July last year. He had fled after terrorists in neighboring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches. That revelation prompted security agencies in India to take a hard look at his speeches and other activities. A lot of chaos was observed last year. The interrogation related to Naik made many eyeballs rise. Many Muslim organizations even came in his support.
Naik and the Drama
Over the next few months, the government started the process of shutting down a non-profit Islamic Research Foundation that he ran from South Mumbai. The agency has, however, given his sister Nailah Naushad Noorani a clean chit. The Agency has said that she was a director of the two companies on paper only. “She signed the cheques on the instruction of her brother and had no knowledge of the company affairs,” the NIA said.
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A government order was issued to ban the organization. It was also declared that anyone to be associated with this non-profit will be observed as a criminal. Zakir Naik had been extolling Osama Bin Laden, proclaiming that every Muslim should be a terrorist. The Home Ministry says Naik has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups. He had been inspiring Muslim youths and terrorists in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts.
Naik, a medical doctor-turned preacher, during his interactions with the Indian media from abroad, has repeatedly denied all the charges. But he hasn’t presented himself before investigators who persuaded a court to formally declare him as an absconder. Earlier this year, the government had also canceled his passport and confiscated assets worth 18 crores. A PTI report cited unconfirmed reports that he has acquired citizenship of Saudi Arabia but this has not been confirmed yet. New Delhi has also approached Interpol against Naik to seek a red corner notice against him to make it difficult for him to travel on a travel document issued by any country.
It would be pivotal to see how events take turn ahead. When it comes to National Security, the government won’t take any risk at its part. The developments will be really crucial. The Government has always maintained a stiff stand on security. However, it would have to keep in check the uprising of religion-based discrimination.
(Inputs by Gehna Kundra)