Updated: August 10, 2016 7:14:10 am
In a 71-page report on controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik, the Mumbai Police have said his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) paid anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 to lure a youth to convert to Islam.
On Monday evening, the Mumbai Police commissioner submitted a report prepared by the Special Branch (SB), the intelligence wing of the Mumbai Police, to the state home department. Sources said the SB studied speeches, sermons and literature prepared by the IRF and the report found these to be “pro-terror” and “influencing vulnerable minds”.
After reports emerged that at least two of the terrorists involved in the Dhaka attack were inspired by Naik’s speeches, the Maharashtra government had asked the Mumbai Police to conduct an inquiry.
An officer said the SB’s inquiry concentrated on speeches made by Naik, as available on the Internet. No member of the IRF or any other NGO run by Naik was questioned. “As the mandate of the probe was to find out if the speeches were influencing the youth to join terror, we only concentrated on the speeches,” said a source.
“It will not be wrong to say that Muslim youths are being attracted towards the ideology promoted by Dr Zakir Naik, or his religious teaching have fanned religious sentiments of the Muslim youths,” says the report in Marathi. “Prima facie certain comments by Dr Naik justifies terrorists and terrorist activities of some organisations,” it adds.
The report also observes that Naik “promoted religious conversions” through his oratory on the supremacy of Islam. “By way of his oratory skills, Dr Naik creates prejudices in the mind of people by asserting how other holy books of the other religions and their beliefs are wrong… His statements are against religious harmony and peaceful coexistence… His focus is on to prove how Islam is the only supreme religion… He spreads religious animosity. Once listeners are attracted towards him, he justifies terrorism and fans religious sentiments of Muslim youths with the help of his oratory skills,” the report reads.
It also states that the law and judiciary department should be consulted to find out if his speeches could be banned. “Some statements are certainly against religious tolerance and promote chauvinism and Islamic supremacy. Hence, prima facie it is certain that his speeches should be banned in Maharashtra,” says the report.
The Mumbai Police report also makes a mention of two NGOs run by Naik, the IRF and the IRF Educational Trust. “Since both these NGOs are regulated under the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act 2010, it should be probed by an appropriate central agency,” it adds.
The report also makes a mention of the recent arrest of two of Naik’s aides by the Kerala Police in its crackdown against those allegedly responsible for radicalising 21 youths from the state who fled to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Islamic State.
In response to reports, a statement released on behalf of Dr Naik called the allegations false and baseless. “Dr Zakir Naik or IRF has not received any notice from the MHA or any governmental agency as of now, and hence we’re unable to comment on it. IRF is a research body that promotes greater awareness of Islam and its tenets… Dr Zakir Naik emphasises on teachings of Islam, which is not unconstitutional, and preaching and propagating one’s religion is allowed by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.” The statement said conversion was not one of the IRF’s objectives.
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