To ban individuals such as Dr Zakir Naik, amendment to UAPA necessary

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An amendment to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or the UAPA which could designate individuals under a ban list is being proposed. Controversial speakers who inspire terrorists usually get away since the current law in India does not have a provision to ban individuals.

Talk regarding an amendment to the UAPA resurfaced following the investigations being conducted in Dhaka which had revealed that one of the terrorists Rohan Imtiaz was inspired by Mumbai based doctor, Zakir Naik. While Naik has come out and termed the acts of the ISIS as un-Islamic, the government would still analyse if action could be initiated.

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Zakir Naik is an Islamic preacher from Mumbai. His views on terrorism have been criticised by many. He drew the ire of many when he refused to classify Osama Bin Laden a terrorist. He had said if Laden is fighting the enemies of Islam then he was for him. His entry was banned into the UK and Canada.

UAPA amendment for individuals:

Under the current situation it is very difficult to ban controversial speakers. Officials say that many speakers such as Naik make controversial comments. Very often the youth are inspired by such comments and take a radical path. However that is not enough to constitute an offence and hence an urgent amendment to the UAPA is the need of the hour.

During the Dhaka probe it was found that Imtiaz who was the son of an Awami League leader had drawn inspiration from the speeches made by Naik. He had quoted Naik on his Facebook a post of last year in which Muslims were allegedly urged to be terrorists.

While the agencies in India will examine this post, action on the same may be difficult. It needs to be a strong case legally and also investigators will have to prove that it was this post which led to Imtiaz committing an act of terror.

The plan to amend the UAPA to bring individuals along with terrorist organisations under the banned list has been on the anvil. If the amendment goes through then the government can include an individual not associated with a terrorist organisation under the banned list. However the amendment would also make sure that the person would be placed under this list if he is associated with an offence. This could mean urging people to take up arms among other propaganda speeches.

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