Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Friday termed a lie the Enforcement Directorate’s claim that he transferred over Rs 49 crore to his bank accounts in India over a period of six years despite not having “any source of income”.
The agency had, on May 2, filed a prosecution complaint before a special court here against Naik charging him with laundering criminal money to the tune of Rs 193 crore and allegedly creating illegal real estate assets worth crores in India and abroad.
The ED had stated that Naik did not have any "known source of income" but still managed to transfer more than Rs 49 crore to bank accounts in India.
In a detailed statement released to media by his PR team, Naik said, "Why is ED lying? When everyone - including all the government agencies - know that I have multiple businesses and revenue streams and my earnings have always reflected in the tax returns I've filed, why is ED lying about it?"
He further questioned if the "pressure was so huge" that they (ED) need to lie to achieve the goal set out by their political bosses?
Naik claimed to be an NRI since 2010, living and earning outside India.
"I earn over a crore a month, and I send money back to India as and when required. I send it from my Dubai account to my India account, and every penny is then accounted for in my tax returns, the papers for which are with the Indian agencies," he said.
"Between 2010 and 2016 - in the six year period - I must have sent 49 crore to India. How is sending 65 lakh per month a problem? For a country that receives more than Rs 6,000 crores every month from UAE based Indians, how is my Rs 65 lakh a problem?" he asked.
"I'm a full time preacher and part-time businessman. I don't charge for my lectures nor do I earn from Peace TV, so I do need another revenue stream to survive, which I have. Implying that I could survive outside India without earning anything is not just illogical, it's childish," he added.
On Thursday, Naik had said that he is ready to return to India if the Supreme Court gives an assurance that he would not be arrested till his conviction.
In an interview to 'The Week' magazine, the preacher said he has faith in the judicial system, but it was better before than it is now, he added.
"Before the BJP government came, you could speak against the government, and at least 80 per cent of the times you would get justice. Today, the chances are 10-20 per cent.
"Moreover, if we see the history, more than 90 per cent Muslims who faced terror charges have been let free after 10-15 years. So if I look at an average, I will be behind bars for about 10 years, and my entire mission would get disrupted. Why should I be a fool," he said.
The preacher said the NIA can question him in Malaysia, if they want.
When asked whether he will return to India if he has an assurance of justice, Naik said, "If there is an assurance from the Supreme Court of India, that if Dr Zakir Naik comes, they will not arrest me till I am convicted, I will come."
The ED has so far arrested two of Naik's aides, Amir Gazdar and Najamuddin Sathak, while Naik himself is absconding and is reportedly in Malaysia.
Naik was booked by the ED in 2016 based on a National Investigation Agency (NIA) FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The NIA in the past has said the Islamic preacher "deliberately and maliciously insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shias, Sufis and the Barelvis, with the intention of outraging their religious feelings."
It had said Naik's organisation, IRF and Ms Harmony Media, "have been instrumental in the maximum circulation of such incriminating speeches".
(With PTI inputs)