The National Investigation Agency is set to move to revoke the Indian passport issued to Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) president Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik wanted in a criminal case registered last year. After interrogating Naik’s sister and aide, the agency says it is also tracking his web of financial transactions that include at least 10 companies and 19 properties in Mumbai and Pune in which Naik has invested an estimated Rs 104 crore. Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that Naik is, most probably, in Malaysia and seeking Malaysian citizenship. The NIA has also initiated proceedings to get a Red Corner Notice against Naik and has sent the requisite documents to National Central Bureau (Interpol) NCB, India on May 11, 2017.
Sources said that Naik holds Passport No. Z2200757 that was issued in Mumbai on May 13, 2011. His passport was renewed on January 20, 2016 in Mumbai and a new passport was issued in his name bearing number Z3606623, with a validity of 10 years. The NIA, on November 18, 2016, on the orders of Ministry of Home Affairs, registered a criminal case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under Sections 153A of Indian Penal Code and Sections 10, 13 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. IRF has already been declared as an Unlawful Association by Government of India as per a notification dated November 17, 2016.
NIA sources told The Indian Express that it was in September 2012 that Zakir Naik obtained a status of Non-Resident Indian. He left India on May 13, 2016, and has not returned since. The special NIA Court at Mumbai issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik on April 21, 2017. NIA investigators claim that one Abu Anas, an accused chargesheeted in the “ISIS conspiracy case” registered by NIA in 2015, received a scholarship from Naik’s IRF for three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015. Sources say that Hyderabad-based Abu Anas was alleged to be part of a conspiracy linked to an ISIS-affiliated group, Junood-ul-Khalifa-fil-Hind. The chargesheet in the ISIS case further elaborated that the members of the said group conducted a number of meetings in different parts of the country “to recruit Muslim youths to work for ISIS and to identify places for training and finally commit terrorist strikes at various public places and vital installations in India”.
NIA investigators found that Abu Anas and his associates received instructions from one Yusuf-Al-Hindi @ Shafi Armar @ Anjan Bhai who is based in Syria and is purportedly the media chief of ISIS. NIA has found that “the total amount of scholarship provided to Abu Anas by IRF was about Rs 1.5 lakh”. Probing Naik’s financial assets, investigators are learnt to have found huge investments in various properties across Mumbai and Pune. Sources said at least 19 properties have been identified in which Naik reportedly invested more than Rs 104 crore over the last few years. The NIA has also traced a web of at least 11 companies incorporated by Naik with his family members and close aides as Directors of these companies. NIA has tracked the trail of financial transactions running into many crores through these companies and the bank accounts of Zakir Naik’s sister Nailah Noorani and their father Abdul Karim Naik (now deceased) that took place in the last few years.
Nailah Noorani and a few close aides of Zakir Naik, sources said, have revealed financial details to interrogators in their statements duly recorded by the NIA following the relevant procedures of law. NIA has been looking for Naik since last year accusing him of “encouraging and aiding his followers through his public speeches, lectures and talks, to promote on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and groups”. Naik has delivered over 1500 public lectures/ talks in India and abroad. His last public lecture in India was held in Kishanganj, Bihar in March, 2012.
NIA investigators have recorded the statement of Naik’s close aide Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar who is said to have told interrogators that he was merely a signatory in a number of companies owned by Naik and that he used to sign cheques later counter-signed by Naik’s sister Nailah. NIA Director General Sharad Kumar told The Indian Express: “He (Naik) is not cooperating with us despite repeated notices sent to him asking him to join investigations.”