Mumbai: In what could be a first step towards banning controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the Nagpada police on Monday evening registered a case against an IRF employee and three others under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
A source in the Mumbai crime branch, which will investigate the case, said the scope of the probe will soon be widened to include various people associated with IRF, including Naik.
The preacher, who has been out of the country for some months, has been the subject of a police probe over allegations that two of the 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 return to India this year.
According to the police, Monday’s case was based on a complaint filed by Abdul Majid Abdul Kader, 60, a resident of Mumbai Central. In his complaint, Kader named Navi Mumbai resident Arshid Qureshi, a guest representative officer with IRF; Kalyan resident Rizwan Khan, who is also believed to have IRF links; and two others, identified only as Haneef and Abdul, who are allegedly involved in radicalising people.
Qureshi and Khan were arrested by the Kerala police and the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on July 21 and 22, respectively, for allegedly radicalising a couple from Kerala and recruiting them for the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS.
According to an ATS source, while Qureshi is a bona fide employee of IRF, Khan’s role was to prepare documents and conduct weddings for recent converts. A senior ATS officer said Khan has conducted more than 100 such weddings.
The special branch of the Mumbai police has been investigating IRF’s activities and scanning Naik’s numerous sermons and speeches since chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered an enquiry in the wake of the Dhaka attack.