New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday charged controversial televangelist and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik with inciting terror and delivering hate speeches.

The agency filed the chargesheet before the NIA special court in Mumbai. Naik, who is not in the country, was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Sections 120B, 153A, 295A, 298 and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Naik fled India on 1 July 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches. The NIA had on 18 November 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the IPC and UAPA.

His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), was declared unlawful by the Union home ministry in December 2016.

“Zakir Naik is the founding trustee and a member of an unlawful association—the Islamic Research Foundation. He has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures," the NIA chargesheet stated.

In November last year, several websites related to Naik and the IRF were blocked while the NIA approached YouTube and Facebook to take down Naik’s videos, arguing they were responsible for spreading hate, inciting terror and insulting the religious beliefs of several groups, including Christians and Hindus in India.

“The investigation conducted by the NIA has firmly established that the incriminating public speeches have been in circulation through the electronic media, such as CD/DVD and web portals—Facebook and YouTube—have been, and continue to be seen, across the world," the NIA’s chargesheet added.

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