A startling revelation during investigation by counter terrorism agencies probing Islamic State operations in India, can attract fresh trouble for controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik. Naik’s ‘hate speeches’ not only inspired one of the five Bangladeshi militants who killed 22 people at an upscale cafe in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave, but mid-day has found that his lectures had also inspired Kalyan youth Areeb Majeed, an alleged ISIS foot soldier.
Zakir Naik is in Saudi Arabia and his legal representative said he will hold a press conference when he is back in India
After 24-year-old Areeb was arrested while allegedly sneaking into India in November 2014, he in his statement (a copy is with mid-day) recorded before the NIA, had stated, “I got inspired to study more about my religion from the lectures of Dr Zakir Naik of IRF (Islamic Research Foundation based in Dongri) which I used to listen to on my mobile.” There is a strong possibility that the other Kalyan youths were also inspired by Naik’s hate speeches. The association of Areeb with Naik had not been probed then by NIA or Maharashtra ATS.
Naik’s activities to be probed
Indian agencies did not probe the impact of Naik’s hate speech on vulnerable Indian youths. Following orders from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Mumbai Police have formed a team of 20-odd policemen to look into all the records of Naik.
A senior police officer on Friday said that the team, apart from personnel from the special branch, would also comprise policemen who had earlier handled cases linked to Naik in the city. The team will also take help from Mumbai Crime Branch and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
“The team will be scanning all his controversial speeches and videos online. Another team will also look into literature by Naik to see if he has made any hate speech which would have the potential to incite someone and amount to an offence. His social media accounts are also being scrutinised,” the officer said.
Police will also look for information on Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, its funding and people associated with it.
Police are also keeping watch to see if any cable operator is airing Naik’s controversial channel, Peace TV, which was not given broadcast licence.
“The inquiry is time-bound and is being headed by an additional commissioner-rank officer. The team will submit its report to Commissioner of Police Datta Padsalgikar within a week, and he will submit it to the CM’s office,” the senior officer said.
Maharashtra ATS is also carrying out a parallel probe into Naik. Presently, Naik is in Saudi Arabia and is likely to come to India on July 11. Naik’s legal representative Mubin Solkar has earlier said that no agency has inquired with him in connection with the recent Dhaka terror attack.
Areeb and his three friends Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel, who are residents of Kalyan, were from same college, and had gone to Baghdad on May 23, 2014 with a group of 22 pilgrims to visit religious shrines in Iraq.
After 8 days, the four took a taxi to Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad without telling anyone. Fallujah had then emerged as the epicentre of Iraq’s deadly insurgency. On August 26, Shaheen had called up Areeb’s family and told them that he had died fighting for ISIS in Syria. However, in November 2014, Areeb was arrested while allegedly sneaking into India, NIA’s supplementary charge sheet stated. Areeb is presently in Arthur Road Jail facing charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Section 125 (waging war against any Asiatic country which has friendly ties with India) of the IPC.