Mumbai: Controversial Mumbai-based televangelist and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has cancelled his media interaction via Skype, scheduled for Thursday.
"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.
The conference was cancelled late Wednesday night.
Naik was scheduled to communicate with the Mumbai media via Skype at the Mehfil Hall, in Agripada, south Mumbai, from a venue abroad where he is currently on a lecture tour.
It is the third time in this week that Naik's scheduled media interaction via Skype was called off amid speculation about his impending return to India.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Islamic Research Foundation had rued that Naik was not getting any venue to address the media in Mumbai.
At least four venues, including three five-star hotels and the World Trade Centre (WTC), had declined permission for conducting his press conference via Skype.
The WTC had confirmed the venue for Thursday's media interaction with Naik who is abroad but cancelled it on Wednesday, an official spokesperson of the IRF said.
"It's weird and unfair. What's going on? Apparently, hotels in Mumbai have been told not to give out venues for Naik's press conference," the spokesperson said.
Critics say Naik's Islamic teachings are radicalising the young.
Earlier, Naik's spokesperson claimed that at least three hotels and WTC had confirmed availability of venue and some even took the bookings but cancelled them at the last minute, the WTC being the latest.
Naik -- at the centre of a storm -- is on a lecture tour in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Africa. He is likely to return to Mumbai after some two weeks, the spokesperson said.
While the Shiv Sena and others have called for his arrest, others like the IUML (Indian Union Muslim League) and AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) have come out in support of Naik, saying he was a victim of a witch-hunt.