September 1, 2016 1:22:48 am
Security agencies will analyse controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s speeches in a more comprehensive manner and conduct a more exhaustive probe before any decision is taken on whether to gag him and ban his NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), as an unlawful association.
The development comes with the Law Ministry advising the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has jurisdiction over security agencies, that not enough evidence is on record to proceed against Naik, sources said Wednesday.
Sources also said that a scrutiny by the Home Ministry of IRF’s accounts have not revealed any violations of foreign funding norms so far.
“We have been advised to analyse a larger number of speeches delivered by Naik to arrive at a clearer picture of whether he is liable for any action. While several of his speeches have already been analysed, we will now have to go through as many of his speeches as is possible – not all his speeches might be easily available,” a source in the MHA said.
The process could take weeks, or even months, as it is “extremely laborious”. The source said, “Videos of Naik’s speeches available in the public domain will have to be authenticated to prove they are not doctored in any way, and then they will have to be carefully transcribed.”
Maharashtra police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is at present analysing Naik’s lectures and IRF’s activities to ascertain whether there is any evidence to charge him and ban his NGO as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Security agencies had earlier drawn up a list of 55 terror accused, arrested from across the country over the past decade, who have claimed to be influenced by the televangelist, or have watched Naik’s speeches.
The list includes arrests from as far back as 2005 to those picked up by NIA earlier this year as part of the agency’s countrywide raids on alleged Islamic State (IS) sympathisers. These accused have claimed affiliation to groups such as the SIMI, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Indian Mujahideen and the IS.
Naik’s lawyer has refuted these allegations and said that if Naik’s speeches are seen in their full context, no one would conclude that he had inspired people to commit acts of terror. Those leveling allegations against Naik might have relied upon doctored speeches available on the Internet, and not on the entire speech, his lawyer had earlier said.
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