More than 75 bank accounts held by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, his two NGOs and its associates are being investigated over foreign funding, the National Investigation Agency said on Thursday.
The agency has written to banks of the 78 accounts of Naik, the Islamic Research Foundation and the Islamic Research Foundation International for details and around half of them have responded to its request, an official said. It is probing the foreign donations that came into the accounts.
The controversial , mostly in Maharashtra towns, NIA sources had earlier told Hindustan Times.
Of these, 25 are flats in Mumbai alone. “Conservative estimates put market value of these properties and other assets of IRF and Naik around Rs 100 crore,” said an NIA official who wished to remain anonymous.
The agency also recovered Naik’s propaganda material contained in 14,000 tapes which amounts to around 5,000 terabytes (TB) of data.
A team of NIA officials headed by agency’s chief Sharad Kumar travelled to Mumbai on Thursday and held discussions with the Mumbai police officials on recoveries made.
The agency gathered details of these properties during its scrutiny of records of Naik and his outfit, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which has been banned for five years following a government notification declaring it to be an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Naik and IRF also have properties in Pune and Solapur. Naik’s spokesperson was not immediately for comments.
After a ban on the foundation, the NIA registered a case against Naik and the IRF on charges of inciting Muslim youth to indulge in violence and promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion and race. The agency also charged Naik with indulging in activities that are prejudicial to national integration.
The agency then conducted searches at around two dozen properties of Naik, his relatives and the IRF with help from Mumbai police.
“Around three dozen bank accounts of the IRF and its trustees including Naik have been identified and banks were asked to freeze them as well,” said the official.
The government has constituted a tribunal to reconsider the ban imposed on the IRF.