Zakir Naik cancels press meet again, cites pressure from venue authorities

Mumbai: Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, facing the heat over allegations of inspiring some of the attackers in Dhaka through his speeches, has cancelled his press briefing again, citing pressure from the authorities at the venue where he was slated to interact with the media.

He was slated to interact with media via Skype on Thursday, and arrangements had been made at a small hall in South Mumbai. However, it appears that the management of the hall has now withdrawn its support.

File image of Zakir Naik. News18

File image of Zakir Naik. News18

"The management of the Mehfil hall in Agripada told our team present at the venue around 11 PM on Wednesday night that they cannot allow the press conference to take place and that we should dismantle and pack up all the venue arrangements we had made. Given no choice, our teams dismantled everything and left around midnight," an aide of Naik said in a statement.

Naik's media interaction was first scheduled earlier this week at the Trident Hotel in South Mumbai, but the venue was subsequently changed to the World Trade Centre. The venue was changed again and a hall in the congested Agripada area of South Mumbai was then chosen for the press briefing. But it now appears this has also been cancelled now.

The organisers of the press briefing had claimed on Wednesday that the Mumbai police have instructed top hotels in the city to refrain from providing space to hold a conference, a charge which they later retracted.

Facing heat over allegations of inspiring the Dhaka attackers through his speeches and under the scanner of state and central agencies, Naik was expected to clarify his position during the media interaction. There were media reports that "provocative" speeches had inspired some of the terrorists who carried out Bangladesh's worst terror attack at a cafe in Dhaka that left 22 dead.

A top Home department official in Maharashtra had earlier said that a report on Naik would be submitted to the
state government before the commencement of the Monsoon Session of the state legislature, which starts on 18 July.

"Contrary to media reports, Zakir Naik has not been given a clean chit by the the Mumbai police. All angles are being
probed and a report will be submitted to the government before the Monsoon Session of the state legislature," a senior government official had told PTI requesting anonymity.

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Updated Date: Jul 14, 2016 12:14:24 IST