The new year is likely to bring in more trouble for controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik. Reason: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is to register a Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) case.
Sources in the central agency, which probes money-laundering cases, stated Naik will be booked in January for a thorough investigation. “There is a predicate offence against Naik registered by the National Investigating Agency (NIA). The FIR has accused him of speeches that spread communal harmony. Our investigation will focus on the proceeds of crime and if he has gained anything financially,” said a high-ranking officer. “Investigations will also focus on if he has invested the earned money,” he added. Naik has been out of the country since reports emerged that his sermons influenced a few angladeshi attackers, who targeted an eatery in Dhaka on July 1.
Bangladesh has banned Naik’s Peace TV, saying it incited the attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people were gunned down.
The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police investigated the foreign funding of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). ED sources revealed they will refer to the police’s findings in this regard as well.
Naik’s spokesperson Aarif Malik said the preacher has not been given an opportunity to clarify. “IRF and Dr Naik have been open to any investigation from the start since July, when the entire case came into light, but throughout these months, no agency posed even a single question to Naik or contacted him or gave him any chance to clarify on any of the allegations. Not a single FIR/notice or any contact was made with him with any official or non-official channel. The first FIR was filed after the ban. IRF and Naik will remain open to investigation, but the irony is that the ban is now being justified by allegations made through FIR’s of financial or non-financial nature.”