NIA to chargesheet Zakir Naik this week

Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will be chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) this week for his alleged role in “terror funding and money laundering cases” in India, news agency PTI quoted officials as saying on Sunday.

The formalities to file the chargesheet against Naik, who left India in July last year, have been completed and it will be submitted before a special court this week, the officials said.

51-year-old Naik, who is living abroad since July 1, 2016, has repeatedly denied charges against him. The NIA had on November 18, 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union Home Ministry.

The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year-long probe during which the NIA claimed to have gathered evidence on his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups. Besides banning his NGO, the Indian government has taken his TV channel off air. The passport of Naik was also revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs at the request of the NIA earlier this year.

In August, Naik contested NIA’s request to Interpol for a red-corner notice, alleging that the case against him is linked to “religious persecution of minorities in India”.

In his plea to Interpol, Naik has submitted that he had been delivering speeches on Islam for the past 25 years across several countries, where he was respected and welcomed, India Today reported.

He has alleged that Indian agencies, by banning his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and preventing him from delivering speeches on Islam, were violating his freedom of expression.

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