NEW DELHI: The NIA on Saturday carried out searches on 10 premises of controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation in Mumbai after registering a case against its founder and others under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the IPC. The agency has booked Naik on charges of inciting violence and promoting enmity between religious groups.
“An FIR has been registered against Naik under the stringent UAPA and we will soon summon him to join the investigation. If he fails to do so then, we will move the relevant court to declare him a proclaimed offender and that will allow us to attach his properties in Mumbai and elsewhere,” an NIA official said.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said Naik would likely be arrested if he came to India to join the probe. “He has been booked under stringent non-bailable sections and it is unlikely that he will return to India anytime soon,” a source said, adding that Interpol’s help would be sought to bring him here if failed to respond to the NIA summons. The agency, in association with the Mumbai police, searched some office premises related to the IRF and residential properties of the controversial Salafist preacher. “We have seized several documents, hard discs and CDs from Naik’s home and offices and they are being examined,” another NIA official said.
The sources said the Enforcement Directorate had also swung into action and sought from the ministry documents related to the “dubious” activities of Naik’s NGOs so that alleged money-laundering aspects could also be probed. The NIA said it had tapes of his speeches through which he had allegedly incited violence. “We will soon question Naik’s associates and will probe the financial trail of the NGO and also examine the expenditure by Naik,” an official said.
The searches come days after the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to declare IRF an “unlawful association” for five years under the UAPA and the Centre formally banned the outfit through a gazette notification.
According to the notification, issued on Thursday, the Centre said that five cases were already registered against the NGO in various states. The Centre cited Zaik’s derogatory statements against Hindu gods and alleged praise for Osama bin Laden among the reasons for the ban. Investigative agencies have also alleged that Peace TV, which is partly funded by the televangelist, is airing objectionable programmes.