The National Investigation Agency on Thursday charged controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik with inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities. In its 4,000-page charge sheet against Naik in a special court here, the NIA accused of 51-year-old fugitive of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years.
The document was filed after the central agency sought permission of the special NIA court, an NIA official said.
NIA prosecutor Anand Sukhdeve said, “We first moved the court seeking permission to file the charge sheet and filed it after the court’s nod.”
Sukhdeve told the court that the investigation against Naik was over and, therefore, the prosecution came up with the charge sheet.
However, Naik’s lawyers Mubin Solkar and Amin Solkar objected to the NIA submission, saying the charge sheet cannot be filed against the single absconding accused.
“The charge sheet is running into about 4,000 pages and there are three accused – Naik, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Harmony media – named by us,” the NIA official said.
There were over 150 statements of witnesses, including some recorded (which unlike a police statement is admissible in court), before the magistrate.
The televangelist, who is currently abroad, was probed under terror and money-laundering charges by the NIA. He fled from India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches.
The NIA had, on November 18, 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
His Mumbai-based NGO, IRF has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union home ministry.
The Mumbai-based preacher came under the lens of security agencies after some terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July last year reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.
The Enforcement Directorate had also registered a criminal case against Naik and others last December after the NIA booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Naik was declared a proclaimed offender by court and on July 21, an order was passed to the effect that the requirements for publication of the proclamation against Naik have been complied with.
He had not appeared before the NIA even after several summonses were issued.