New Delhi, 19 November 2016. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked controversial TV evangelist Dr Zakir Naik on the charges of inciting violence and promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion and race.
The booking on Friday follows the government’s decision to declare Dr Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
“The NIA has registered an FIR against Dr Naik under the UAPA and he will soon be asked to join the investigation. If he doesn’t, the agency will ask the court to declare him a proclaimed offender and set in motion to attach the properties of the IRF,” said a senior home ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Dr Naik’s spokesperson Aarif Malik said the controversial Islamic preacher will join the investigation if called for questioning.
“We have always maintained that Dr Naik will always be available for any probe launched by any Indian law enforcement agency. Our position has not changed,” said Malik from Mumbai.
The NIA, along with the Mumbai police, on Saturday morning raided 10 premises of the IRF.
“We are searching a few residential premises and a few office premises of Zakir Naik,” said an NIA spokesperson.
Since the IRF has been declared an unlawful association, no person can become a member or office bearer of the association, whose website says it is a registered non-profit public charitable trust, or hold meetings or collect funds. A ban under UAPA is valid for five years.
The decision to declare the IRF unlawful was approved in a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
However, the IRF said it would argue before a central tribunal against the validity of the ban.
Naik has been out of the country since reports emerged that his sermons influenced a few of the Bangladeshi attackers who targeted an eatery in Dhaka on July 1. Bangladesh has banned Naik’s Peace TV, saying it incited the attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people were gunned down.
Arshi Qureshi, an employee of the IRF, is also being investigated on the suspicion that his speeches inspired some 20 people who disappeared from Kerala and are feared to have joined the Islamic State terrorist outfit.
A separate complaint has filed against Qureshi by a Nagpada (Mumbai)-based father of a boy who was allegedly radicalised.