Just after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided multiple locations linked to the controversial preacher and televangelist, Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation on Sunday, authorities have also blocked Naik’s websites which were used for publishing controversial speeches and statements.
The IRF shot into the limelight following allegations that Naik’s teachings and speeches had inspired terror strikes, including the terror siege on a Dhaka café in July this year that left over 20 people, mostly foreigners including an Indian woman, dead. Over the past four months, Naik and the IRF are under the scanner of Indian agencies for the alleged misdeeds, spreading or promoting communal disharmony, inciting feelings of enmity between communities and inspiring or supporting terror acts.
According to The Times of India, the NIA will also summon Naik and work towards getting an Interpol “red corner notice” if he continues to elude law enforcement agencies. According to the report, the NIA could also issue a non-bailable warrant against Naik. A red corner notice is usually issued by Interpol to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons — the closest tool to an international arrest warrant. If such a notice is issued, Saudi Arabia (where Naik is allegedly located) will have to hand over Naik to Indian authorities.
The raids continued for nearly 12 hours. DNA reported that electronic evidence — laptops, mobile phones were seized during searches at 12 locations in Mumbai. The Economic Times reported that the NIA seized Rs 12 lakh in cash from Naik’s Mumbai properties. In the evening, the teams searched the residences of IRF and Peace TV office bearers, comprising Naik’s immediately family members and others holding various posts in his NGO and private television channel.
An IRF account in the Development Credit Bank Ltd’s Dongri Branch has also been sealed by the NIA from where the NGO pays salaries of its school staffers and manages other expenses. “CDs and computer data from all IRF offices are being scrutinised. Telephonic and email conversations will be checked. Telecom experts have also been roped in,” an NIA official is quoted as saying in DNA.
Teams of the NIA investigators, accompanied by Mumbai Police, started the raids at around eight locations owned or connected with the IRF and Peace TV, including its headquarters in the congested Dongri area of South Mumbai. Besides the head office of IRF and four other branches, an old office, a women’s centre, and an office preparing content for telecast on Naik’s Peace TV programmes were raided.
Taking over the case from Mumbai Police in mid-October, the NIA raids and search operations were completed around 5 pm. The teams moved to residence searches of Naik’s medico brother Mohammed and their mother, two sisters and others. During the NIA raids, no IRF and Peace TV staffers were permitted inside any of the premises. Peace TV was banned by Bangladesh following the terror strike.
Naik’s social media
According to The Economic Times, it is proving to be difficult for the NIA to get Naik’s social media presence muted. Authorities might get help from US authorities in getting Naik’s Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube videos which contain “objectionable” content suspended.
With inputs from IANS