New Delhi: Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is likely to be questioned by National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is scanning his 78 bank accounts, and real estate investments worth at least Rs. 100 crore in and around Mumbai by him and his associates.
The probe agency, which had in November last year registered a case against Zakir Naik and others under anti-terror law for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, has found role of 23 entities including individuals and corporates linked to the preacher, NIA sources said on Thursday.
The NIA has questioned around 20 associates of Zakir Naik, including his sister Nailah Naushad Noorani, in connection with its investigation, they said.
"We have sought certain documents including income tax returns and others. Besides this, 78 bank accounts in different banks of the country, are also being scanned. Once examination is done, we intend to summon Zakir Naik for questioning," a source said.
The sources said that the agency has written to the banks seeking details of these accounts including transactions. At least Rs. 100 crore have been allegedly invested in real estate by Zakir Naik and his associates in and around Mumbai.
The NIA officials have found complicated movement of money in the financial transactions made by people involved in the case, they said, adding that the role of Mumbai-based Harmony Media Pvt Ltd--involved in production of religious and educative videos--is being looked into in this case.
Zakir Naik's Non-Government Organisation (NGO), Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has been banned by the central government under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The speeches of Zakir Naik, who is currently out of the country apparently to evade arrest, are banned in the UK, Canada and in Malaysia.
The Home Ministry has found that the NGO was allegedly having dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism.
According to the Home Ministry, Zakir Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda.
IRF had come under the scanner of various security agencies after one of the terrorists involved in the Dhaka cafe attack on July 1 last allegedly posted on social media that they had been inspired by Zakir Naik's speeches.
In addition, some young men from Mumbai's suburbs, who had left their home to join the ISIS in 2016, also allegedly said they were inspired by the preacher.
Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Zakir Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities.
Zakir Naik also transferred IRF's foreign funds to Peace TV for making "objectionable" programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Zakir Naik, who had reportedly "urged all Muslims to be terrorists" through Peace TV, the sources said.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a criminal case against Zakir Naik and Islamic Research Foundation under money laundering laws. (PTI)