The Mumbai police on Wednesday said they are gathering details about the activities and engagements of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik during his time in Saudi Arabia, a country that officials said is the biggest contributor to his non-profit, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
Investigators said Naik has been spending the majority of his time in Saudi Arabia for years, and that the police are compiling details of all his visits there. A police source added that central agencies have been helping them gather this information, which will prove critical in the enquiry against Naik. As they have been unable to question Naik, the police will submit what they term an ‘open report’ to police commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar.
The police also said that officials from the special branch, which is conducting the enquiry into Naik’s activities, will keep an eye on a press conference organised by IRF at Nagpada on Thursday, which Naik is expected to host via video-conferencing.
“It will be interesting to hear if he has something new to say on the issue and to see if he takes specific questions. Whatever he says will also be included in the preliminary report that will be submitted this week,” said a police officer, who did not wish to be named.
As a part of the probe, investigators said that they will search properties owned by Naik and IRF after they finish recording the statements of their employees.
Officials have learnt from former employees of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, which houses an editing studio for Naik’s Peace TV at Dongri, that the company allegedly hasn’t paid some of its editors their dues.
A video editor who used to work there said, “We would be hired on a five-year contract with a clause stating that our salary for the last 2.6 years would be paid after we completed five years there. However, they told many of us to leave before the end of our terms to avoid paying us. I have not received over Rs 2 lakh in dues.”