In fresh trouble for Zakir Naik, two central agencies on Monday cracked down on the controversial preacher and his NGOs on Monday. While the NIA issued fresh summons to Naik for appearance before it for questioning, the ED attached assets worth over Rs 18 crore belonging to his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and other entities. Having failed to appear the last time he was called for questioning, Naik has been issued fresh summons by the NIA for March 30. The agency is investigating a case under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Naik. The assets attached by the ED, the agency said, are in the form of mutual funds, real estate properties and bank balances. IRF has been under the scanner for alleged terror funding and money laundering by NIA and ED.
In the course of the probe, NIA claims, it has so far examined 60 people. This includes examination of family members of Naik, his business associates, employees and staff of IRF as well as Harmony Media Private Limited, it has claimed. “Some of the witnesses have given statements before the magistrate, wherein they have stated how Naik promoted enmity and hatred among people of different religious beliefs, through his public utterances, and how he hurt religious sentiments of followers of other sects or religions,” an NIA spokesperson said.
The investigation has shown that Naik procured a number of properties, in and around Mumbai, in the name of his relatives and companies set up by him, the agency claimed. “Naik transferred huge amount of money from his foreign bank accounts to his bank accounts in India in the last few years. However, the source of this foreign income is yet to be identified,” the spokesperson said.
The NIA notice has been sent to the Mumbai residence of 51-year-old Naik, who is believed to be staying in Saudi Arabia to evade arrest after his activities were put under the lens following accusations that he had inspired some of the terrorists who attacked a cafe in Dhaka last year.
An FIR against Naik and his associates was registered by the NIA in November last year. On the basis of this FIR, the ED registered a case of money laundering against Naik later. He has also ignored similar summons sent by ED.
The preacher has been booked for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have also been slapped on him.
In a statement, ED on Monday said, “The investigations reveal that the proceeds of crime generated through the provocative speech of Dr. Zakir Naik has been either routed and transferred or utilised for the purpose other than for which they have been generated.”