New Delhi: The Indian security establishment has expressed concern over wanted Islamic preacher Zakir Naik broadcasting his banned Peace TV channel through mobile applications. The security agencies have also flagged that Naik’s Peace TV stations are available on social media platforms YouTube and Facebook in four languages.
The Islamic televangelist is wanted by India’s federal anti-terror probe body National Investigation Agency (NIA) for preaching hate.
The presence of Naik’s television station’s mobile applications was flagged during a meeting of the security and intelligence establishments last week. Thereafter, the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to write to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to take appropriate action on the Peace TV mobile applications.
Fugitive Naik runs two television stations — Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu – and they are banned in many countries across the globe for broadcasting hate speech and incitement. It is banned in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United Kingdom.
A top government source said that NIA had registered a case against Naik in 2016 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“The organisation run by him – Islamic Research Foundation – has been proscribed as an Unlawful Association,” said the government source adding that the NIA investigation has proved that Naik and his associates have been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through inflammatory public speeches and lectures on various platforms, and inciting Muslim youth and terrorists in India and abroad to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts.
“These activities of Zakir Naik and his associates are causing disaffection against the Indian State and are prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony among various communities and likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity,” the source said.
Since its inception in 2006, the channel has been telecast to more than 200 Muslim-populated countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and North America.
Peace TV network telecasts 24×7 free-to-air Islamic religious programmes in Urdu, Bengali, English and other languages. The channel aired inflammatory talks in respect to Hindus, Jews and Christians.
It is promoted by the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a Mumbai-based Islamic NGO which was established by Naik in 1991.
Naik, 54, fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the NIA started a probe against the Islamic preacher. India has made a formal request to Malaysia seeking his extradition to face charges for allegedly inciting communal disharmony in hate speeches in India.
The NIA had approached Interpol, an international organisation that facilitates worldwide police cooperation, thrice to issue Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Naik but he contested and the requests were rejected. Interpol had cited that there was lack of evidence and proof of wrongdoing by Naik. He was also booked by India’s federal financial investigative agency – Enforcement Directorate – in 2016 based on a FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Enforcement Directorate alleged a total amount of Rs 193.06 crore has been identified as proceeds of crime.
Naik has been booked on charges of laundering criminal money under various sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and allegedly creating illegal real estate assets worth crores in India and abroad.
Earlier this year, UK’s media regulator OfCom slapped a fine of 300,000 pounds on Naik’s two television stations, Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu, for broadcasting hate speech and incitement. The UK has also started a probe into the charity he founded that funded the channels.
He was barred from the UK in 2010 but continued to operate the channels until 2019. UK’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) cited Naik’s channel as an example of Islamist extremism.
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