Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik Charged With Hate Speech, Declared an Absconder
File photo of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik (GETTY IMAGES)
Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency on Thursday submitted its charge-sheet against televangelist Dr Zakir Naik, in connection with a case filed against him for allegedly inciting youngsters to take up terror activities.
The NIA, in the 58 page charge-sheet, has declared the Salafist preacher an absconder and booked him for inciting communal hatred.
He has been charged under sections 295-a (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 505-b (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility) of the Indian Penal Code.
Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have also been slapped against Naik.
The 51-year-old televangelist, who left the country in July last year, is being probed under terror and money-laundering charges by the NIA. He fled India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches.
The NIA had on November 18, 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union Home Ministry.
Naik is said to have acquired citizenship of Saudi Arabia but this has not been confirmed yet.
The controversial preacher has been accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years.
Naik, a medical doctor-turned preacher, during his interactions with the Indian media from broad has repeatedly denied all the charges.
The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year- long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence on his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups.
Besides banning his NGO, the central government has taken his TV channel off air. The passport of Naik was also revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs at the request of the NIA earlier this year.
The Mumbai-based preacher came under the lens of security agencies after some terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July last year reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.