A special court in Mumbai has issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest for controversial preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik after he failed to appear before the Enforcement Directorate despite four summons issued to him IANS reports.
Naik is currently away in Saudi Arabia. Informed sources said the Enforcement Directorate may now seek Letters Rogatory, or letters of request, from the same court for Saudi Arabia.
These letters are a formal request for judicial assistance from a foreign court. The ED first issued summons to Naik in January, after which three more summons were issued at regular intervals.
The agency submitted an application for issuance of fresh NBW on Monday and it was approved on Thursday. The central agency registered a criminal case against Naik and others in December last year after taking cognisance of a National Investigation Agency (NIA) complaint under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Sources in the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the trail of over Rs 2 billion received by Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and his relatives, said the 51-year-old preacher established dummy companies in India and abroad for diversion of funds.
As part of its ongoing investigation, the ED last month attached property worth Rs 183.7million belonging to the IRF. The Islamic preacher is also accused of promoting enmity between groups on religious and racial grounds, which are being investigated by the NIA.
The NIA also sent him several summons to appear at its headquarters in Delhi but he allegedly avoided them. All the notices by the Enforcement Directorate and the NIA were served at Naik’s Jasmine Apartments in Mazgaon area of Mumbai.
Naik first came into the limelight when his name cropped up during investigations into the terror strike at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1 last year.
One of the terrorists involved in that attack allegedly claimed to have been inspired by Naik’s speeches. Naik is evading arrest after his activities came under scanner.
Though Naik offered to speak to the Enforcement Directorate via videoconferencing or answer a questionnaire, the sources said the agency is not keen on the idea, saying it will “set a wrong precedent”.
The Enforcement Directorate revealed that videos of Naik’s provocative speeches were produced and exported to Dubai to be telecast. The agency has recorded the statements of Naik’s siblings — his sister Nailah Noorani and brother Mohammad Abdul Karim Naik.
The two said they were unaware of Naik’s financial dealings. The sources said Naik’s overseas properties were also under the ED scanner.