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Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s passport revoked

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-07-2017 PTI

Mumbai: The external affairs ministry has revoked the passport of Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who is wanted in connection with alleged terror funding and money laundering cases in the country.

“The Mumbai Regional Passport Office has approved the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) request to revoke Zakir Naik’s passport,” a spokesperson for the anti-terror agency said on Tuesday. NIA had thrice issued notices under CrPC section 160 to Naik, asking him to join the investigation, but he did not appear before it, he said in a statement here.

The section authorises a police officer to call somebody if it appeared the person seemed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case in question. Thereafter, on 21 April, the additional sessions judge presiding over the NIA special court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

On 15 June, the court issued proclamation order seeking Naik’s appearance before it, he added. After Naik failed to comply with these directives, the anti-terror agency requested the ministry of external affairs to revoke his passport, the statement said.

The 51-year-old televangelist, who is currently abroad, is being probed for charges related to terror and money laundering. The Mumbai-based preacher, who left India on 1 July 2016, came under the lens of security agencies after some terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July last year reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.

Naik had his passport renewed in January last year and it was valid for 10 years. The NIA had on 18 November 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

His city-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Centre. Naik is said to have acquired citizenship of Saudi Arabia but it has not been independently confirmed yet.

The controversial preacher has been accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years. Naik, a medical doctor-turned preacher, during his interactions with the Indian media from his haven abroad has repeatedly denied all charges.

He was served a show-cause notice by the passport authorities asking as to why his travel document should not be revoked. The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year- long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence of his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups. Besides banning his NGO, the central government has taken his TV channel off air.

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