India set to slap terror charges on Zakir Naik,ban his NGO

NEW DELHI:The Indian government, while declaring the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an ‘unlawful’ organisation, is set to slap terror charges on the televangelist Zakir Naik, whose ‘hate speech’ was reported to have inspired one of the five Dhaka cafe attackers.

According to reports, top government sources revealed that the Indian home ministry has decided to charge Naik under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for speeches the ministry and the Maharashtra government has allegedly found containing extremist content, Times of India reported.

“The primary ground for invoking terror charges against Naik are statements by those involved in past terror acts, conceding that they were motivated by his speeches,” an intelligence officer said. Naik, who has been abroad since the cafe attack rocked Bangladesh, has reportedly called off plans to return to India.

Further, authorities in India have also decided to ban Naik’s NGO under the same law on grounds of spreading hatred through his speeches. Once the ban is implemented, IRF and its associate organisations across India, will be shut down.

Last month, the Bangladesh government banned Naik’s channel Peace TV. The decision to ban Peace TV Bangla was taken during a special meeting of Cabinet Committee on Law and Order, according to Industry Minister Aamir Hossain Amu, who chaired the meeting.

It was also decided to monitor sermons given during the Friday prayers to check if any provocative lectures are delivered, Amu said. The Bangladesh government also urged imams in the country to deliver sermons condemning terrorism and extremism, the minister added.

The chief minister of India’s Maharashtra state also ordered a probe against the preacher for his ‘hate speech’ inspiring the attack. Following the accusations and ban on Peace TV, Naik made it clear he never supported terrorism, saying no Indian official had contacted him for a clarification on the issue. In a statement, Naik expressed shock at the media trial against him and growing calls for a ban on his television channel.

“I do not support terrorism or violence in any form whatsoever. I have never supported any terrorist organisations and have mentioned this over and over again in thousands of my public talks worldwide,” he said. I strongly condemn anyone taking my statements out of context and using it for violence of any form, the televangelist said.

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