Still under the radar: Dr Zakir Naik's troubles deepen, chargesheet filed against aide Aamir Gazdar
Controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik seems to be getting deeper and deeper in to trouble. In a fresh blow to the Islamic preacher, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed chargesheet against Aamir Gazdar, the associate of Dr Zakir Naik, at the Special Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA) Court.
Incidentally, the Special PMLA Court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik three days back and Aamir Gazdar has been in ED custody for the last 60 days. The chargesheet was filed after thorough investigations against him.
What lead to this
Ever since he was dragged into the controversy of being the inspiration to the gunmen involved in the Dhaka bombing last year, Naik came under the radar of investigating agencies, especially the ED. Naik was out of India when one of the bombers claimed that he was inspired by Naik’s speeches.
However, Naik denied it and tried to distance himself from the entire controversy. He also said that everything will be cleared when he returns to India. But Naik is yet to return to India. He is believed to be in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Advocate Mobin Solkar, who represents Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the organisation led by Naik, “The agency is yet to give us the copy of the chargesheet. Technically, the accused should get the copy. We would be able to comment on it only after we get the copy of the chargesheet.”
It is learnt that the 250-page chargesheet has statements of Aamir Gazdar, Naik's sister and an accountant of IRF. The matter would be heard at Special PMLA Court on Monday.
Solkar said that Gazdar, a family friend of Naik, was on the board of directors of many companies headed by Naik. These companies have also been under the ED's radar ever since Naik was booked under the PMLA. Gazdar would also generate content for Peace TV which is run by the IRF and controlled its operations from his office.
Gazdar was arrested on charges of money laundering in February. Gazdar was called to the ED’s Mumbai office for questioning before he was arrested on the grounds that he was not cooperating with the agency.
The ED had alleged that Gazdar handled the cash received by the IRF which was to the tune of Rs 200 crore. Apart from him, ED has questioned several other individuals connected with IRF and Naik.
The Naik issue
The ED began its probe against IRF and Naik in December 2016, after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) lodged a complaint under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The NIA has booked Naik for allegedly promoting enmity between communities and propagating terror through his speeches.
“Dr Zakir Naik had been on the radar of investigating agencies since long. He was under surveillance. All his claims on voluntary conversions during his programmes were orchestrated,” said a senior Intelligence Bureau officer who did not wish to be named.
Meanwhile, the NIA has decided to get a notice issued against Naik so that his movements are restricted. The Special PMLA court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik asking him to remain present for questioning on Monday. He has not responded to several warrants before.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen