India to charge Islamic preacher Zakir Naik under terror laws

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India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has called for the arrest of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik under the country’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), The Times of India reported.

A NIA report submitted with the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that there was substantial proof that Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was involved with fomenting religious conflict and radicalising Indian youth. The sections of the UAPA cited in the report include those related to terrorism and incitement of communal hatred.

The NIA has cited Naik’s influence on several terror suspects, including a member of the Indian Mujahideen group, Qateel Ahmed Siddiqui, and several Islamic State recruits arrested across the country. Naik is currently abroad and has not returned to India since a Bangladeshi newspaper reported on his alleged role in inspiring the terrorists who attacked a Dhaka bakery in July 2016.

The NIA has obtained the ministry’s approval to proceed with the case and a charge-sheet will be filed with a special court later this week, according to reports. Reports added that Indian authorities have already contacted Interpol to assist the NIA in extraditing the preacher from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia where he is known to travel and work.

Naik has consistently denied the charges against him, which also include money laundering. His passport has already been revoked and his NGO declared an unlawful organisation. There are unconfirmed reports on his acquisition of Saudi Arabian citizenship.