A preliminary report on the activities of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has been readied by the special branch of the Mumbai police, which apparently mentions that some terms and lines in his sermons and speeches may be objectionable but not provocative or anti-national.
Sources in the police said they had not been able to find anything concrete that could be used to file a hate speech case against Naik. The special branch report will be submitted to Mumbai police commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar within 24 hours. Padsalgikar had tasked the special branch after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis sought an investigation into Naik’s activities in the wake of reports that his sermons had influenced a couple of the terrorists who killed 20 people in an upmarket Dhaka café on July 1.
A team of more than 20 police officers went through a huge collection of Naik’s sermons and speeches, which are in the public domain. In the last eight days, the team focused on sermons and speeches Naik made in the last four years, the sources said.
Police had collected them from various places, including the office of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, which houses the editing studio of Naik’s ‘Peace TV’. The officials also spoke to some of the employees during the enquiry.
“The police team heard the sermons and speeches and all the objectionable content was penned down after listening to the transcripts. Those documents have also been attached in the preliminary report on Naik,” said a police officer.
Officials said that the report would be studied by senior police officers to decide if a further enquiry needed to be initiated against Naik.
Apart from the speeches and sermons, activities of Harmony Media and Naik’s think-tank, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) were also being studied. This would take some more time and resources. “Documents and past records could not be gathered at such a short notice for verification, hence these things are left open-ended in the report, which may or may not require further enquiry by the Mumbai police,” added the officer.