Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) early on Saturday filed an FIR against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik under an anti-terror law and carried out searches at 10 premises of his banned Islamic Research Foundation.
The searches began on Saturday morning with the help of local police after a case was registered by the NIA's Mumbai branch on Friday night under Section 153A of the IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion...and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
In the FIR, the NIA alleged that Naik incited Muslim youth in India to commit unlawful and terrorist acts.
Sources said Naik may be called in for questioning.
Naik’s lawyer Mobin Solkar said the FIR was illegal as another FIR for the same charged had been filed against the preacher in 2012.
The NIA action came barely a few days after the Union Cabinet declared IRF as a banned organisation under the UAPA.
IRF came under the scanner of various security agencies after one of the terrorists involved in the Dhaka cafe attack had allegedly posted on social media that they had been inspired by Naik's speeches.
Some of the youths from Mumbai suburbs, who had left their home to join Islamic State earlier this year, were also allegedly inspired by the preacher.
The speeches of Naik, who is currently out of the country apparently to evade arrest, are banned in the UK and Canada as well as in Malaysia.
BJP leader Zafar Islam on Saturday said Naik should return and face the law.
The Home Ministry found the NGO was allegedly having dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism.
According to the Home Ministry, Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda.
Maharashtra Police have also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities.
Naik also transferred IRF's foreign funds to Peace TV for making "objectionable" programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly "urged all Muslims to be terrorists" through Peace TV.
An educational trust run by Naik has already been prevented from receiving foreign funds and agencies are looking into their activities.
Six cases have already been registered against the IRF and its members in different part of India.
A case was registered against IRF employee Arshi Qureshi in August in Mumbai after an arrested youth accused Qureshi of radicalising him after, which led him to join the Islamic State.
Another FIR was filed against Qureshi in Kerala in July for promoting ill-will and forcible conversion of a Kerala youth who went missing and was suspected of joining the ISIS.
Two FIRs were also filed against Naik in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra for making derogatory statements against Hindu gods and was charge-sheeted in 2014.
(With PTI inputs)