Mumbai: Aamir Gazdar, a close aide of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, was on Thursday arrested by ED in connection with its probe in a money laundering case against him and others.
Officials said Gazdar, director in certain firms under scanner in this case, was arrested late evening by the Enforcement Directorate under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“Gazdar, a close confidante of Naik, was put under arrest around 7:30 PM today. He will be produced in a court tomorrow for further custody,” an official said.
Gazdar (50), officials said, was called for questioning at the ED’s office here and was arrested as he was allegedly “not cooperating” with the investigators.
Officials claimed the agency suspects that Gazdar allegedly handled cash funds and transactions worth Rs. 200 crore on behalf of Naik and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). They added Gazdar’s firm used to reportedly provide content for IRF’s Peace TV, and its operations were handled from the western metropolis here.
ED, for quite sometime now, has been summoning representatives of IRF and those related or associated to Naik in connection with its PMLA case and Gazdar was being questioned in the same context, they said. The central probe agency had registered a criminal case against Naik and others last December after taking cognisance of an NIA complaint under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
It has also summoned Naik but he is still to depose before the agency as he is reported to be abroad. ED is looking into the charges of alleged illegal funds laundered by the accused in the case and the subsequent proceeds of crime thus generated. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had earlier registered a case against 51-year-old Naik under anti-terror laws for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.
NIA along with Mumbai police had also carried out searches at 10 places in the megapolis, including residential premises of some of the office bearers of the foundation, which was earlier put on restricted list by the Union Home Ministry for receiving funds from abroad.
Naik, who is said to be staying in Saudi Arabia to evade arrest after some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror strike last year claimed they were inspired by him, has been booked along with unnamed IRF officials under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) beside various sections of UAPA.