Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, facing heat over allegation of inspiring some of the Dhaka attackers through his speeches, has cancelled his press briefing again, citing pressure from authorities of the venue where he was slated to interact with the media via Skype.
He was slated to interact with media via Skype on Thursday, for which arrangements had been made at a small hall in South Mumbai. "The management of the Mehfil hall in Agripada, around 11 PM last night, told our team present at the venue 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 by around midnight," an aide of Naik said in a statement issued here.
Naik's media interaction was first scheduled earlier this week at Trident Hotel in South Mumbai, but the venue was subsequently changed to World Trade Centre. Later, the venue was again changed and a hall in the congested Agripada area of South Mumbai was chosen for the press briefing, which has also been cancelled now.
The organisers of Naik's press briefing had on Wednesday claimed that Mumbai Police has instructed top hotels in the city to refrain from providing space to hold a conference, a charge which they later retracted.
Facing heat over allegation of inspiring some of the Dhaka attackers through his speeches and under scanner of the state and the 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 Monsoon session of the state Legislature, which starts on July 18.
"Contrary to media reports, Zakir Naik has not been given any clean chit by 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.