India begins probe into controversial speeches of Indian Islamic preacher

'There is not a single talk of mine where I encouraged one to kill another, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,' Naik said. In photo: (R) Zakir Naik Photograph:( AFP )

Agencies New Delhi, India Jul 08, 2016, 08.50 AM (IST)
The government is examining speeches of controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, and has issued necessary orders in this regard, said India's interior minister Rajnath Singh today.

Singh was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Anti-Drugs Working Group meeting in New Delhi.

"We have taken cognisance of Zakir Naik's speeches and have issued necessary orders in this regard. The CDs of his speeches are being thoroughly examined. Whatever is justified will be done. I want to assure you that as far as the government of India is concerned, we will not compromise on terrorism under any circumstance," said Singh.

The regional government of India's western state Maharashtra yesterday ordered a probe into the speeches by the Muslim televangelist.

"I have asked the Mumbai Police commissioner to conduct a probe (into Naik's speeches) and submit a report," Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI.

India's information and broadcasting minister, M Venkaiah Naidu said Naik's speeches were highly objectionable.

Naik has come under the scanner following revelations that one of the attackers involved in the assault in a restaurant in Dhaka last week was influenced by his speeches.

According to a national daily of Bangladesh, an attacker, Rohan Imtiaz - the son of a politician of country's ruling Awami League - had even written a post on Facebook last year quoting Naik.

Naik, however, had released a statement, saying he "totally disagreed" that he inspired the act of killing innocent people in Dhaka.

"There is not a single talk of mine where I encouraged one to kill another, whether Muslim or non-Muslim," he said.

Six gunmen stormed a restaurant in Dhaka's diplomatic zone late on July 01 and killed 20 people, most of them foreigners from Italy, Japan, India and the United States, in an assault claimed by Islamic State.

It was one of the deadliest militant attacks to date in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, police and anti-riot forces were deployed outside the offices of Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in Mumbai city as a precautionary measure.

Naik's speeches are broadcast across the Indian sub-continent through his Peace TV with a viewership of at least 100 million, said media reports.

Naik already faces a ban in the United Kingdom, Canada and Malaysia. He has made several controversial statements in the past. In a statement from 2006, Naik was caught on camera telling Muslims it was acceptable to embrace terrorism in certain instances.

The radical preacher had also supported once dreaded militant Osama bin Laden in one of his speeches. Naik is also of the idea that homosexuals should be awarded death sentence.