The external affairs ministry said on Thursday it has started the process to revoke the passport of Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who is wanted in connection with alleged terror-funding cases. “We have received a request from the agency concerned a few days ago. We have taken action on that request to revoke the passport. There is a process for such steps which need to be complied with under the provisions of the law and we have taken action,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in reply to a question.
Naik is being probed for terror and money laundering charges by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). He fled from India on July 1, 2016 after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches on waging ‘jihad’. Naik had his passport renewed in January last year and it has a validity for 10 years, according to security agencies.
The NIA, on November 18, 2016, had registered a criminal case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His organisation, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared as an unlawful association by the government.
The controversial preacher is accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years. He has been served with a show cause notice by the passport authorities asking him as to why his travel document should not be revoked.
The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year-long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence of his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups. The central government has already banned his NGO and taken his TV channel off air.