NIA raids Zakir Naik’s IRF, Peace TV, freezes bank account (Roundup)
Mumbai, Nov 19 (IANS) The NIA on Saturday raided multiple locations linked to controversial NRI preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, an office of Peace TV, owned by him, residences of various office bearers of the NGO and the TV channel, and froze a bank account, sources said here on Saturday.
The early morning operation – starting around 5 a.m. – came a day after the National Investigation Agency lodged a case against Naik and his IRF under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The raids continued for nearly 12 hours.
In the evening, the teams shifted to 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 been sealed by the NIA from where the NGO pays salaries of its school staffers and manages other expenses.
Teams of the NIA sleuths, accompanied by Mumbai Police, started the raids at around eight locations owned or connected with the IRF-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 p.m. The teams moved to residence searches of Naik’s medico brother Mohammed and their mother, two sisters and others.
Details of the raids, whether any seizures of materials or documents were made, were not available till late evening.
During the NIA raids, no IRF and Peace TV staffers were permitted inside any of the premises.
Naik is currently out of the country, and reportedly believed to be somewhere in Africa.
Away from India since the past few months, the controversial evangelist did not come to attend the funeral of his father Abdul K. Naik, who died on October 30 here.
The IRF shot into limelight following allegations that Naik’s teachings and preachings had inspired terror strikes, including the terror siege on a Dhaka cafe in July this year that left over 20 people, mostly foreigners including an Indian woman, dead.
Peace TV was banned by Bangladesh following the terror strike.
Since the past four months, Naik and the IRF are under the scanner of Indian agencies for alleged misdeeds, spreading or promoting communal disharmony, inciting feelings of enmity between communities and inspiring or supporting terror acts.