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NIA files chargesheet against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for incitement of terror activities, hate speech

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NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday filed a charge sheet before the NIA Special Court, Mumbai against Salafist televangelist Zakir Naik for “deliberate and malicious acts” to outrage religious feelings by promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures besides inciting violence.

Besides Naik, the agency has also chargesheeted two entities promoted by him —Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Mumbai and Harmony Media Private Limited (HMPL).

The chargesheet also hinted that Naik has floated another outfit styled as ‘Islamic Dimensions’ apparently after IRF was banned by the Centre under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

During the investigation, it was found that through his public lectures/speeches, accused Zakir Naik deliberately and maliciously insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi, and Barelwis, with intention of outraging their religious feelings, and IRF and HMPL have been instrumental in the maximum circulation of such incriminating speeches in the form of CD/DVD/ TV program, “ the NIA alleged in its chargeheet.

The chargesheet further said, “The investigation conducted by NIA has firmly established that the incriminating public speeches/utterings have been in circulation through the electronic media, such as CD/DVD and web portals Facebook/ YouTube, etc.; and have been, and continue to be seen, across the world.”  

The minutes of IRF board of trustees’ meetings disclose that IRF had approved, organized, promoted and funded public lectures of accused Zakir Naik including his incriminating speeches. The seized material such as DVD and books list IRF as the publisher. During 10-day Peace Conference organised by IRF in Mumbai between 2007 and 2011, there was “open etation to convert people of other religion into Islamic religion by Zakir Naik,” it alleged.

Naik and the two entities connected to him have been chargesheeted under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs), 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 505 (making statements conducive to public mischief) under the Indian Penal Code. Naik and the two entities have also been charged under Section 10 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (penalty for being member of an unlawful association).

The investigation has revealed that huge funds have been received by the domestic and foreign entities and individuals related to Naik. The investigation has also revealed that huge quantity of cash has been generated by entities and individuals connected to Zakir Naik which has been invested in real estate and holding companies.

“The investigation has revealed that there are 19 [Nineteen] immovable properties, including land and building, worth Rs 104 [One hundred and four] Crores connected with the accused Zakir Naik. The source as well as the mode of acquisition of these properties is being investigated,” the agency said in its chargehseet.

During the investigation sufficient oral, documentary, technical, forensic and material evidence has been collected which establishes the criminal conspiracy in promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through public speeches and lectures. Zakir Naik has deliberately insulted other religions or religious beliefs under the aegis of IRF with the help of HMPL to cause dissatisfaction.

The probe also revealed that Naik is the founding trustee and a member of an Unlawful Association (IRF) and has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures, it claimed

nlawful Association (IRF) and has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures, it claimed.

“He has conspired with the IRF Trust and the Harmony Media Private Limited to commit offences of (i) promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures (ii) deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,” it said.

 The Investigation has also established the role of Harmony Media Private Limited in collusion with co-accused Zakir Naik in video-recording his incriminating speeches, editing the same for public view, making master DVD of incriminating speeches for further replication and circulation to general public, forwarding the speeches to the Global Broadcast Corporation, Dubai, for broadcast in the Peace TV, it said.  

The investigation has established that many incriminating speeches of accused Zakir Naik were delivered during the 10-day Peace Conference organized by IRF in Mumbai from 2007 to 2011. The Minutes of IRF Board of Trustee’s Meetings confirm that the IRF had planned, organized, funded and promoted this event where there was open exhortation to convert people of other religion into Islamic religion by Zakir Naik. His lecture tours were funded by the IRF. The covers of incriminating DVDs also had the name of the IRF along with its address. His derogatory, insulting and controversial comments have always been defended by the IRF, it said.

The chargehseet has detailed nine speeches and/or utterings, in particular, which were found to be inflammatory as they hurt the religious sentiments besides inciting violence. These speeches are titled as ‘Terrorism and Jihad – an Islamic Perspective’, ‘Media and Islam: War or Peace’,  ‘ZN se Poochiye Sawal wa Jawab ka Khula Ijlaas’, ‘Zakir Naik se Poochiye sawal wa Jawab ki Khuli Nashisht’, ‘Similarities between Hinduism and Islam’ (QA Session), ‘Concept of God’ (Q & A Session), ‘Ask Dr.Zakir an exclusive open question and answer session Chennai’, ‘Ask Dr. Zakir an exclusive open question and answer session, Dubai Day-1’ and ‘Ask Dr. Zakir an exclusive open question and answer session, Dubai Day-2’.

The chargesheet also mentions that in September 2012, during the Ganpati festival, two quotes of Zakir Naik taken from his speech given earlier in Srinagar, were uploaded on his Facebook account by the IRF for public view. The defamatory texts include (i) ‘If you prove to me that Shri Ganesh is Bhagwaan then I will eat the prasaad,’ and (ii) ‘If your ‘Bhagwan’ cannot recognize his own son (Sri Ganesh), how will he recognize me if I fall into any difficulty?’ “The religious sentiments of followers of Hindu faith were deeply hurt by these insulting and deriding comments,” it said.

According to the chargesheet, Peace TV was found guilty of breaching Rule 2.3 of the Communications Act, 2003, in the UK as well, because in presenting his theological views on these points, Zakir Naik did not include any reference to alternative interpretations by Muslim scholars (of the views he presented), nor sought to mitigate the potential offence by providing sufficient context for his remarks.

IRF and the IRF Educational Trust have received huge donations from the public, within India and from abroad. Most of the acknowledgment receipts show only ‘Well Wisher’ instead of the real name of the donor, the chargesheet alleged.

Naik’s sister Nailah Naushad Noorani was made Director of HMPL and Longlast Construction Company after he acquired NRI status in 2013. But she was director only for name sake as all the affairs of companies were handled by her brother. She signed the cheques on the instruction of Naik and had no knowledge of the company affairs. She had received Rs 29 crore from Naik through her parent’s bank account between 2013 and 2016. This money was further invested into Harmony Media and Longlast Construction Company as per Zakir Naik’s instructions, it further alleged.

The IRF has already been declared as an Unlawful Association by Government of India as per a notification dated November 17, 2016. 

The NIA has been looking for Naik since last year accusing him of encouraging and aiding his followers through his public speeches, lectures and talks, to promote on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and groups. 

Naik has delivered over 1500 public lectures/talks in India and abroad. His last public lecture in India was held in Kishanganj, Bihar in March, 2012.

(With ANI inputs)

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