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Mumbai(The Hindu): Maharashtra State Intelligence Department (SID) has for now given a clean chit to preacher Zakir Naik, conceding that there is simply no case to be made out against the televangelist. Sources in the special SID team handling the probe ordered by the State government said Dr. Naik will not be and cannot be arrested upon his return to India.
As part of the preliminary probe, the SID has studied hundreds of YouTube videos and speeches given by him in and outside India. Senior officials said a dossier of evidence has also been received and collected from the other intelligence teams in various States, including Hyderabad, where an IS module, reportedly inspired by the speeches of Dr Naik, was busted.
“There is no case to be made out against the English-speaking preacher, except maybe the possible charge of hurting religious sentiments, but even that cannot be established from his speeches. We are tracking his movements and only if he speaks something out of turn, we can ‘pin’ him down on a charge. For now, we are closely monitoring him,” said a senior police official, who on Monday conveyed the preliminary assessment of the SID findings to the ‘higher-ups’.
Senior officials of the SID said they have closely studied the statement of one of Dr Naik’s close aides, who has reportedly alleged the preacher is investing money earned from his speeches into the share market. “He (Dr Naik) had recently a falling out with the aide, who has alleged the preacher is using the speech business for transferring gains into shares and stocks. But that cannot be a criminal offence in itself,” said officials.
There is no other strong evidence to link Dr Naik to terror-related activities other than reported charges that he inspired the Dhaka and Hyderabad terrorists.
Dr Naik was to return to Mumbai from Mecca on Monday to address a press conference, but decided to head to Africa instead. His family however, boarded the flight back to India. Supporters of the influential Salafist Islam preacher have already claimed there is no offence to be made out against Dr Naik. His lawyers claim there is no offence to be made out, not even that of a ‘hate speech’ let alone of fanning terror-related sentiment. “If he has talked about Osama Bin Laden in one of the speeches that in itself does not constitute a charge or offence against him. If one bomber (in Bangladesh) says he was inspired by Mr Naik’s speeches, how can he be held accountable,” Dr Naik’s lawyer Mubin Solkar of Solkar & Associates had told The Hindu.