The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has said in a chargesheet filed in a Mumbai court earlier this month that members of an “Islamic State-inspired” terror group were inspired by the speeches of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, PTI reported on Wednesday. The members of the terror group were arrested in Maharashtra in January for allegedly planning mass killings at a temple.
The ATS found several videos of Naik and his images on social media profiles of the accused, the chargesheet said. “The group had planned a mass killing of devotees at the 400-year-old Shree Mumbreshwar Temple at Mumbra by poisoning the ‘maha prasad’ there,” the chargesheet added.
An event called Shreemadh Bhagwat Katha was organised at the temple in December last year. the chargesheet said. One of the arrested accused, Talha Potrik, had tried to poison the offering there, it added.
“The group members had also obtained information through the internet and social media about making explosives and poison and conducted blast trials in hills near the Mumbra bypass,” the chargesheet said. The squad identified Abu Hamza as the leader of the group, and said he conducted the blast trials.
The chargesheet said that some of the arrested accused attended physical training sessions for terror activities at a stadium in Mumbra near Mumbai. Some members of the group were also in touch with foreign handlers, it added.
The Enforcement Directorate had in May filed a chargesheet against Naik on charges of money laundering of around Rs 193 crore and creating illegal real estate assets in India and abroad. The money laundering inquiry was based on a first information report filed by the National Investigation Agency against Naik and others for allegedly indulging in unlawful activities by promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups through provocative messages.
Naik, who has a permanent residency permit in Malaysia, has been on the Indian government’s radar ever since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the terrorists behind a Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016. In June, the Ministry of External Affairs said a formal extradition request for Naik has been made to the Malaysian government.