Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday that a report by the Mumbai police, submitted to the state government on Monday night, indicts controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Fadnavis said the report contains observations about Naik’s and IRF’s alleged links with terrorist outfits such as Indian Mujahideen and Jamat-Ul-Dawa. He said the state is studying the report and will soon consult the ministry of home affairs to decide whether or not to ban IRF. The police’s report states that Naik “justifies terrorism and violence in the name of jihad” and termed his opinions about other religions “extreme”.
“By way of his oratory skills, he creates prejudice in the minds of people by telling them how other religions’ holy books and beliefs are wrong. His statements are against religious harmony and peaceful coexistence,” states the report.
Fadnavis said the report implicates IRF in several illegal and anti-national activities. “The report highlights the relationship between Naik and Feroz Deshmukh, who was arrested by the state anti-terrorism squad for the serial train blasts on July 11, 2006. He was also found to be involved in terrorist activities in Hyderabad,” he said.
“The report establishes Naik’s online links to terrorist organisations and to terror suspects arrested in Hyderabad. Information given by a Kalyan youth who had joined ISIS has also established Naik’s links with terrorist activities,” Fadnavis added.
Fadnavis said the report will be shared with the central government as many findings in the report fall under its domain. “The report has a few annexures concerning activities pertaining to terrorism. It also points out that Peace TV and IRF have been banned in several countries. In its conclusions, the report lists the laws under which Naik can be booked. The state government will decide what action will be taken,” he said.
Naik has been out of the country for the past few months and Fadnavis said the state government will consult the centre on bringing him back to India. “We have international treaties with many countries and will soon finalise our strategy,” he said.
The police report states, “Naik’s focus is on proving that Islam is the only supreme religion, [that] other religions are have failed… [how] the Holy Quran is the supreme holy book, and how teachings of other religious books are contrary [to Islam].”
A damning portion of the report reads, “Once his audience gets attracted to Naik, he justifies terrorism and fans religious sentiments of Muslim youths with the help of his oratory skills.”
The police said in the report, “Though Naik states that Islam condemns the killing of innocent people, he justifies violence in the name of jihad.” It recommended a ban on Naik’s speeches in Maharashtra, saying the United Kingdom’s decision to ban the preacher should be a precedent for other democratic countries.
While the report details Naik’s speeches and activities, it does not touch upon IRF’s finances, saying the ministry of home affairs is already probing this aspect. A police source said, however, that specific complaints about Naik’s and IRF’s finances are being investigated by the Mumbai police’s economic offences wing (EOW).
The Mumbai police said they will consult the department of law and justice before initiating legal action against the preacher.
Naik has been the subject of a police probe over allegations that two of six terrorists who attacked Dhaka on July 1 had drawn inspiration from his sermons. At a press conference that he addressed via Skype from Saudi Arabia in July, the preacher denied any wrongdoing, but said he won’t be returning to India this year.