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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

NIA charge sheet may lead to red corner notice against Zakir Naik

Central agencies say they will explore legal options to get him extradited

mumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2017 11:02 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times
Zakir Naik
Zakir Naik(HT File)

The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) charge sheet submitted before a special court in Mumbai on Thursday is likely to pave way for a red corner notice against controversial televangelist Zakir Naik.

The fugitive preacher is being probed by two central agencies — the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) that are exploring all legal options to get him extradited. While the ED has booked Naik and his aides in a money laundering case, the NIA has charged him with inciting youth to join terrorism and promoting hatred between communities.

Naik fled the country in July last year after terrorists attacked a cafe in Dhaka. At least two of the terrorists claimed that they were motivated by Naik’s speeches.

“The ED has obtained a non-bailable warrant against Naik who is believed to be last seen in Malaysia,” said an officer privy.

The ED first summoned Naik in January after which several summons were issued at regular intervals. The ED rejected his offer to be questioned via videoconferencing, saying it would “set a wrong precedent”.

Amir Gazdar, a confidante of Naik, is the only person arrested in February in connection with the money-laundering case. He was granted bail in July. The agency has approached the Bombay high court, seeking cancellation of the bail.

The ED has alleged that videos of provocative speeches were produced and exported to Dubai for telecasting. Naik allegedly wired huge amount of cash through Gazdar. The money was used to pay salaries of employees and officials of Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) he founded.

Naik has not appeared before the special court, despite being summoned many times. The agency has recorded the statements of Naik’s siblings. They said they were unaware of Naik’s financial dealings.

The ED has alleged that Naik established dummy companies in India and abroad to divert funds he earned by delivering provocative speeches.

The ED, in its charge sheet against Gazdar in April, lists Naik as an accused in the money laundering case. It has included the statements of witnesses and several documents, which establish the trail of laundered money.

Naik’s lawyers have been maintaining that he has always been a law-abiding person and never been accused of any offence, leave alone the charge of this magnitude. “Owing to these prejudicial proceedings, he faces an extremely hostile environment, making a fair probe impossible,” alleged his counsels.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 10:33 IST