Zakir Naik, the controversial fugitive Islamic preacher, has issued a statement slamming the story of the Interpol reportedly issuing a Red Corner Notice against him. He categorically denied that such a notice was ever issued and said that the Interpol will never succumb to pressure by Indian government. He fled India after the terrorists, who attacked a Dhaka cafe and killed 22 people in July 2016, said they were Naik’s admirers. The preacher lives in Malaysia, where he has permanent residency. An Indian request for his extradition is pending with the Malaysian government since January 2018.
In a statement released to the media, Naik said that, “I'm aware of the pressure the Indian government has been applying on the Interpol to issue a red corner notice against me. It's part of an elaborate witchhunt. But having verified with a few member countries, I can confirm that there is no red corner notice against me as of date. One of the Indian newspapers seems to have jumped the gun and reported internal deliberations of the Indian government, which as a matter of fact, has been going on for over two years now.”
“The Interpol had already cancelled a red corner notice against me once. And it's been one-and-a-half years since the govt submitted a chargesheet and started applying pressure on the Interpol. But as things stand, I have no reason to believe that Interpol will succumb to any kind of undue pressure," he added.
On April 5, a special court granted bail to Abdul Sathak, an aide of the Islamic preacher, arrested for allegedly helping the latter with money laundering. Special PMLA court judge M S Azmi granted bail to Sathak on a surety of Rs 5,00,000. Sathak, a jeweller, was arrested last month under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He is accused of helping Naik by transferring "funds of dubious origin from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) to facilitate production and broadcasting of incriminating videos for spreading communal hatred and radicalisation of a particular community".
While granting bail, the court laid down certain conditions, like he shall make himself available for probe as and when called by the investigating officer. Also, he must not leave India without the permission of the court and surrender his passport with the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Mumbai, within a week. In his bail plea, Sathak said that there was nothing to show that he "acquired or dealt with any property" obtained through crime. He also claimed to be suffering from myasthenia gravis, a long-term neuromuscular disease.
The ED has alleged that Sathak sent about Rs 50 crore to Naik, which the latter illegally routed and laundered. Sathak was the director of Global Broadcasting Corporation FZE LLC that owned Naik's Peace TV channel, it said.
The central agency alleged that Global Broadcasting was "controlled" by Naik (who is stated to be in Malaysia now), through Sathak, his "trusted aide". Naik has been under investigation since 2016, when the Centre banned his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for five years. The controversial preacher is accused of inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities.
(With agency inputs)