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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Declare Zakir Naik as a Fugitive Economic Offender: ED to court

cities Updated: Sep 23, 2019 23:04 IST
Hindustantimes
         

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday approached a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court to declare controversial televangelist Zakir Naik a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) under the new law.

Sanjana Sharma, the special public prosecutor for ED, submitted an application, along with supporting documents, in a sealed envelope to the special court, to declare Naik as FEO. The application is scheduled for hearing on September 30.

The central agency has last week obtained a fresh non-bailable warrant against Naik. The court, while issuing the warrant, noted that his lawyer had approached the court to submit a ‘vakalatnama’ and sought time to appear before the court.

The court observed that, “It is clear that accused no.1 [Naik] is duly served with a summons and he has knowledge of the proceedings instituted against him as well as the dates fixed in the matter, yet, accused no.1 has not appeared before the court in person.” The court has further observed that Naik has failed to mention any reason for his inability to appear before the court.

After the receipt of the said order, the ED on Monday moved a plea to declare him FEO under the new law. If declared FEO, the prosecuting agency would be able to confiscate his assets in India and abroad if he failed to appear before the court in time.

ED alleged that Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) had organised peace conferences in Mumbai, between 2007 and 2011, in which Naik attempted to convert people and incite terror acts. “The said conferences were planned, organised, funded and promoted by the IRF and people of other religions were openly converted to Islam by Naik,” the ED said in a statement. “His inflammatory speeches and lectures have inspired and incited a number of Muslim youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terror acts....”

Naik was booked by the ED in 2016, after the National Investigation Agency registered a case against him. He has since been charged with promoting enmity between different groups, delivering hate speeches and money laundering. The first charge sheet was filed in 2017. So far, two of Naik’s associates have been arrested. Aamir Gazdar, who allegedly helped him route money from Saudi Arabia to India, was arrested in 2017, while jeweller Najmuddin Sathak was arrested in March. As per the ED, Sathak was a director of Dubai-based Global Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcasted videos of Naik through Peace TV and social media. His speeches were recorded at a studio in the city, owned by Harmony Media.

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 23:04 IST

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