The government seems to be preparing the ground to take action against TV evangelist Zakir Naik, who allegedly influenced a number of terrorists, including two of the six attackers who killed 20 people in an upscale café in Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday Naik’s speeches were a matter of concern and that security agencies are examining them.
“As a minister, I cannot comment as to what kind of action will be taken under the law,” Rijiju told reporters in the national capital.
On Tuesday, the minister said that India, so far, has not received any reference from Dhaka on Naik.
Nabris Islam and Rohan Imtiaz, who attacked the Holey Artisan Café in Dhaka, were reportedly inspired by Naik, who runs Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which he started in 1991.
Naik was banned in the United Kingdom and Canada in 2010 and from addressing meetings in Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow in 2008 owing to his speeches.
Ayaz Sultan, leader of the Islamic State (IS) module in Malwani, who reportedly sneaked out of the country to reach Syria, too, was influenced by Naik’s speeches. Sources in the intelligence bureau said Sultan started to garner radical views during his stint with the IRF.
His controversial discourse also inspired Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American arrested in 2009 in the US to allegedly plan suicide attacks on New York subway; Kafeel Ahmed, the man from Bengaluru who failed to execute a suicide attack on Glasgow airport in 2007; and Rahul Shaikh, the accused in the 2006 train blasts in Mumbai.
Darul Uloom Deoband, the Islamic seminary in Uttar Pradesh, issued a fatwa against Naik for his speeches.
Senior police officers said counter-terrorism units have prepared a dossier on Naik that has the details of his bank accounts and the funds his organisation receive through zakat or tithe.
Naik’s speeches are aired mainly on English TV channel, Peace TV, which he started in 2006. Naik launched Peace TV Urdu in 2009, Peace TV Bangla in April 2011, and plans to have the channel in 10 major languages across the world.