The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested a close confidante of Zakir Naik, Aamir Gazdar, on Thursday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Gazdar’s arrest is the first in the case and he has apparently been in constant touch with the televangelist even after Naik fled the country.
ED sources stated that Gazdar, 55, managed the “transaction of illegal cash” for Naik. “A lot of the money that came to India from abroad was managed by Gazdar. He has been actively involved with Naik. He pretended to be the director of six firms that were used as dummy companies,” said a senior ED officer.
Investigations revealed that Gazdar was constantly in touch with Naik even after the latter fled the country, said sources. “He has been arrested but he is not co-operating with the probe,” said the senior officer. Gazdar will be produced before a special PMLA court on Friday.
The central agency has filed an enforcement case information report (ECIR) against Naik. The agency is probing whether his funds came from those who were inspired by his speeches or not. “Gazdar also hold 10% shares in ‘Longlast construction’, the firm that was used to purchase several properties in the country. Ninety percent of its shares are owned by Naik’s sister Nailah Noorani,” said the officer.
After a ban on the foundation, the NIA registered a case against Naik and the IRF on charges of inciting Muslim youth to indulge in violence and promoting enmity on the basis of religion and race. The FIR has accused him of delivering speeches that spread communal harmony. The agency also charged Naik with indulging in activities that are prejudicial to national integration.
Naik has not been in the country ever since reports emerged that his sermons influenced a few of the Bangladeshi attackers who targeted an eatery in Dhaka on July 1. Bangladesh has banned Naik’s Peace TV stating that it incited the attack in which 22 people were gunned down.