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Maharashtra state probing against Dr Zakir Naik

08 July, 2016

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MUMBAI: India's Maharashtra state government on Thursday ordered a probe against Islamic preacher and scholar Dr Zakir Naik, after sections of Bangladeshi media reported one of the Dhaka cafe attackers had been inspired by Naik's speeches to carry out the attack, CNN News-18 reported.

A Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, carried a report on July 6 claiming that Rohan Imtiaz, one of the five militants involved in the recent Dhaka cafe attack, ran a propaganda campaign on Facebook last year urging all Muslims to be terrorists, quoting Naik's speech on Peace TV.

Maharashtra state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has ordered Mumbai Commissioner of Police DD Padsalgikar to launch an inquiry against Naik and submit a report at the earliest.

Police will also investigate Naik's source of funding, properties and operators telecasting his speeches across the Indian state.

Earlier in the day, security personnel were also deployed outside Naik's Islamic Research Foundation office but a Mumbai police official told Times Of India that the deployment of force was just a 'precautionary measure'.

In a video statement later in the day, Naik rubbished media reports about inspiring one of the attackers to carry out the Dhaka cafe carnage. He said he never condoned terrorism or killing of innocent people in his speeches.

"Just because a person knows a personality who is famous and a celebrity, you cannot attribute every act of the person to the celebrity," Naik said in a WhatsApp video available with India's NDTV. "If you listen to my talks, you will never ever find in any of them that I have condoned terrorism or killing of an innocent human being," he added.

49-year-old television preacher Zakir Naik is the president of India based Islamic Research Foundation. A public speaker on religion, Naik founded a television channel specialising in comparative religion called Peace TV in the year 2006 . Followed by a huge number of people across the globe, his Official Facebook page has more than fourteen million fans. Last year, Naik received Saudi Arabia's most prestigious prize for service to Islam, the King Faisal International Prize.

In 2013, Malaysian government gave him the country's highest award, the ‘Tokoh Ma’al Hijrah "for his significant service and contribution to the development of Islam". In 2010 Naik was reportedly barred from entering Britain. The British Home Secretary had cited “numerous comments” which showed his “unacceptable behaviour” for the decision. In the same year, Naik was prevented from speaking at the Canada's largest Islamic gathering 'The Journey of Faith'.

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