After it emerged that Rohan Imtiaz, one of the terrorists in the attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, was inspired by controversial Islamic preacher and Mumbai-based tele-evangelist Zakir Naik, government sources Tuesday said that “the matter would have to be examined further” before deciding whether any action against him was warranted.
“We will have to examine the matter further before a call can be taken on whether any legal action is warranted against him (Naik). It is a highly sensitive issue, and there must be strong legal basis that will hold good in a court for any action,” a government source said.
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“While certain organisations can be designated and banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, currently there are no provisions to ban individuals,” the source said.
The government, incidentally, has been planning to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to introduce a clause that would allow it to designate individuals along with terror organisations under the “banned list of entities.” The amendment would seek to include the case of an individual not associated with a terrorist organisation but involved in a terror offence. Rohan, son of an Awami League leader, was shot dead at the end of the 11-hour hostage crisis. He had quoted Naik in a Facebook post last year allegedly urging all Muslims to be terrorists.
Naik has maintained that he has always “unequivocally condemned” acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, whether it was New York (9/11), London (7/7) or Mumbai (26/11). The founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, Naik has been banned in UK and Canada for alleged hate speech, and is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He is popular in Bangladesh through his ‘Peace TV’ channel.
Among the nine Twitter accounts followed by Nibras Islam, another of the six Dhaka gunmen, was @ShamiWitness, operated from Bengaluru by Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who was arrested on December 13, 2014. Nibras followed controversial preacher Anjem Choudary’s account.