Mumbai: Maharashtra government has asked Mumbai Police to conduct a probe into controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's speeches amid reports that his sermons inspired one of the terrorists involved in the attack on a restaurant in Dhaka.
"I have asked the Mumbai Police Commissioner to conduct a probe (into Naik's speeches) and submit a report," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI on Thursday.
Everything, including Naik's speeches, his social media accounts, sources of funding (of a foundation run by him in Mumbai) will be scrutinised, said Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio as well.
The direction comes amid reports that one of the terrorists who attacked an upmarket restaurant in the Bangladeshi capital a few days ago, killing 22 people, was inspired by sermons of the 50-year-old Mumbai-based Islamic scholar.
Naik has denied propagating terrorism in any way.
"I totally disagree (with suggestion) that I inspired this act of killing innocent people. There is not a single talk of mine where I encouraged anyone to kill another person’s - Muslim or non-Muslim," said Naik, who has been banned in a few countries.
Controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik faced more heat on Thursday with the government saying "appropriate action" will be taken against him over his speeches that were reported to have inspired some of the Dhaka attackers, calling it "highly objectionable".
As Mumbai-based Naik came under the scanner, senior Congress leader Digivjaya Singh was in the BJP's line of fire after a 2012 video showing him share a dais with the 51-year-old televangelist praising him at an event to promote communal harmony surfaced on Thursday.
Security personnel were deployed outside Naik's 'Islamic Research Foundation' office at Dongri area in South Mumbai as a precautionary measure in the wake of the escalating row over his alleged hate speeches.
"The Home Ministry will study (his speeches). It will take appropriate action after studying them. His speeches, as being reported in the media, are highly objectionable," the new Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters in Delhi.
Naidu's remarks came a day after Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju hinted at action against the preacher after looking into whether Naik through his speeches glorifies terrorist acts by Muslims. Naik yesterday asserted that his speech on Islam and terror has been taken out of context and claimed that he had only said Muslims should terrorise anti-social elements.
Naik's speeches are believed to have inspired some of the Bangladeshi militants, who killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka last Friday.
Digvijay Singh, who was seen praising Naik in the 2012 video, defended himself, saying if there was any evidence against the preacher, then the Indian and Bangladeshi governments should take action against him. In the video, Singh told Naik that he should take his message of peace world over.
"I have appealed for communal harmony and opposed religious fundamentalism and terrorism by either Hindus or Muslims," the Congress leader added.
However, BJP was quick to target Singh and also demanded action against Naik, saying he was a "threat" to national security as it was clear from his speeches that he "incited" people.
"Terrorism is enemy of humanity. Anybody who directly or indirectly abets it is guilty. People like him (Naik) are a threat to our national security. Government agencies should decide on action against him under the existing legal system. It is clear that he incited people," party national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Coming to the defence of Singh, Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said his senior colleague has himself stated that he only appealed for peace, harmony and brotherhood.
Surjewala said the NDA government should take decisive action against Naik or any other individual or organization found indulging in anti-India activities.
"There is no place in our society for obscurantist & extremist thoughts. Congress party has always fought the forces of hate and division who have threatened India's integrity," he added....