A week into their enquiry against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and his Peace TV channel, the Mumbai police have not found anything concrete that could be used to charge Naik with inciting terrorism or any other crime. A source in the police said, however, that a lot of material – in the form of speeches, sermons and published works – is yet to be scanned.
A source in the enquiry team said they will take legal assistance to have all the remaining materials checked before submitting a report to the state government in the next few days.
According to the source, the teams have come across contentious speeches but are continuing their search for stronger evidence as what they have so far is unlikely to hold up in court. Investigators also said they will take help of forensic experts to ascertain if any objectionable material found during the probe has been doctored.
The special branch of the Mumbai police is also compiling a list of former employees of Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, which edits shows meant to be aired on his channel Peace TV, which is banned in India. Officials are hoping that former employees can give them details about the activities of Harmony Media.
Naik faces three cases in Maharashtra – at Kurla, Sawantwadi and Vengurla – over a speech he gave in 2013. However, police sources said he has already been questioned in those cases. He was, however, asked to report to the Mumbai police while leaving the country and on arrival, after the 2013 case was registered. Naik has also been booked in a few cases in other states. Officials said that a writ petition he filed in the Supreme Court, asking that a single agency investigate all the cases against him in various states, is also pending.
Naik has been in the spotlight ever since two of the six terrorists who attacked the Holey Artisan Café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, two weeks ago claimed they had been influenced by his sermons. He had been on the police’s radar well before that and was questioned by the state’s anti-terrorism squad in 2006 after the police found that a suspect in the July 11 train bombings that year was an employee at his Dongri office.