Updated: July 25, 2016 4:27:30 pm
The Mumbai Police, looking into the speeches of tele-evangelist Dr. Zakir Naik, has said that they have found most of them to be “pro-terror”. They have, however, said that they would let the state Law and Judiciary department take the final call and decide what legal action, if any, should be taken against the controversial preacher.
Senior officials in the Maharashtra police have told The Sunday Express that the special branch of the Mumbai Police probing Dr. Naik’s speeches have found most of them capable of “influencing” impressionable minds and being ‘pro-terror’.
The team is, however, yet to arrive at a conclusion on whether that proof was enough to prosecute him.
The officials said that the police would limit themselves to sharing their findings with the State and let the Law and Judiciary Department decide whether or not any action can be taken against Dr Naik.
“Over a dozen videos of Dr. Naik have been studied by the team and most of them are found to be objectionable in nature and capable of influencing vulnerable minds. However, to stand scrutiny of courts, we have to give proof beyond reasonable doubt that his speeches provoked recruits to join an outfit or carry out an attack. So far, we have found that his speeches were one of the many materials available on the internet which are shown or shared with terror recruits across various banned outfits,” the official said.
He added that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) had provisions under which Naik could be booked.
However, officers were not sure whether that could be enough to secure a conviction.
“For the same, there are provisions under the UAPA to book him. However, this cannot be the sole ground to book him as such materials are available in plenty and to pinpoint that only Naik’s speeches led to brainwashing of youth to rope them in terror fold would be an uphill task,” a senior official said.
In a recent development, Naik’s employee, Arshi Qureshi who was attached with his trust, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was arrested by the Kerala police earlier this week on the charges of radicalising Merin alias Mariyam, a Pallakad-based youth to join IS.
“There are allegations that the youngster was inspired watching Naik’s video and Qureshi also facilitated her meet with Naik on two different occasions and Qureshi’s arrest might cause trouble for Naik,” added the official.
Sources claim that another case which merits a straight action of registering a case for “hurting religious” sentiment pertains to a video posted in 2012 on YouTube and social networking site Facebook. In this video Dr. Naik is heard making “derogatory” remarks against Hindu god Ganesha. However, there is already a case registered with the Kurla police station in this matter which is being probed by the local police.
“This video is strong enough to book him under Section 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for hurting religious sentiment but it is already being probed, hence we cannot register a fresh case as it will amount to double jeopardy,” added the official.
“In the said video, Naik is seen throwing a challenge to Hindus to prove Ganpati is a deity. He is heard saying, “If your God in unable to recognise his own son, how will he know that I am in danger.”
However in the said case, he claimed that the post was doctored and never posted by him,” informed an official.
A probe was ordered against Naik by the Maharashtra government after reports that two of the terrorists involved in the recent Dhaka attack were following Naik on social media and were inspired by his speeches.
Other than the recent speeches, the team has combed all the old speeches posted by the Islamic preacher which are available on the internet.”The mandate of the probe is not limited to recent speeches but everything that he has spoken till date. Many officers are pressed into studying the different speeches and see if they are provocative in nature,” explained a source.
When quizzed on the claims made by Naik of not returning for a year, scuttling the probe, the officer explained his statement would be recorded only after the probe and the subsequent decision by the Law and Judiciary department.
“The statement of Naik or the members of his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is required to be recorded at this point in time,” added the official.
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