10 things we know about Zakir Naik so far
1. The enforcement directorate (ED) on Saturday filed a charge sheet against Aamir Gazdar, a close confidante of Dr Zakir Naik, and Harmony Media Limited — a company floated by Naik — for allegedly laundering money on behalf of the controversial televangelist. The ED’s 1,000-page charge sheet lists Naik as an accused in the case. The charge sheet includes the statements of witnesses and several documents, which establish the trail of laundered money.
2. The ED obtained a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against him from a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai on Thursday.
3. The central agency has filed enforcement case information reports (ECIR) against Naik. The ED is in the process of probing whether people who were inspired by Naik’s speeches funded his activities. After the Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation was banned, the national investigating agency registered a case against the televangelist and his organisation for inciting Muslims to engage in violence and for promoting enmity among groups based on religion and race. Police accused him of giving speeches that spread communal unrest.
4. In the past, the ED told a special court in Mumbai that Naik established dummy companies in the country as well as abroad to divert funds. The central agency said Gazdar was the director of at least six companies established by Naik, two of which are in England — Universal Broadcasting Corporation Ltd and Lords production Inc Ltd. The rest are based in Mumbai — Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, Long-lost constructions Pvt Ltd, Majestic Perfumes Pvt Ltd and Alpha Lubricants Pvt Ltd.
5. Naik left the country after it was reported that his sermons influenced a few of the Bangladeshi attackers who targeted an eatery in Dhaka on July 1. Bangladesh banned Naik’s Peace TV, saying it incited the attack in which 22 people were gunned down.
6. ED said Harmony Media owns an editing studio, where shows aired on Peace TV were collated and edited. Large sums of money were transacted through Naik, who did not leave clues as to where the money came from or how it was used. This happened within a span of just eight months.
7. Earlier, the Union government declared the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The UAPA ban is valid for five years.
8) The government declaration means no person can hold meetings, collect funds or become a member or office bearer of the IRF. The foundation’s website, however, says it is a registered, non-profit, public charitable trust. The decision to declare the IRF unlawful was approved by a cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
9. A separate probe was earlier initiated by the special branch, Mumbai police’s intelligence wing and the economic offences wing (EOW) to look into the IRF’s finances.
10. Cases have been registered against Naik for his controversial remarks against Hindu gods. Cases against him have been filed in Kurla, Vengurla, Sawantwadi and outside Maharashtra. Naik filed an application in the Supreme Court, demanding that all these cases be investigated by a single agency. His plea is pending.
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