New Delhi, Oct 5: RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday appeared before the CBI here in response to join the investigation into alleged irregularities in the IRCTC Hotels Corruption case.
Lalu Prasad appeared at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters on Lodhi Road at around 11.30 a.m. “His questioning has started,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS.
The CBI on September 26 issued fresh summons — the third in a month — to the RJD chief and his son Tejashwi Yadav in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp contract case.
The CBI move comes after Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav skipped two earlier summons.
The CBI on July 5 filed a case for alleged IRCTC Hotels Corruption against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav. The allotment of contracts for IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railway Minister.
The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar in lieu of bribe in the form of a plot of prime land in Bihar, the CBI said.
A preliminary CBI inquiry found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.
The Enforcement Directorate has questioned Ahluwalia.
The ED had on July 27 registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and was probing Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.(IANS)
Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons
Mumbai, October 29, 2017 : India plans to ask Interpol to help track down Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher accused of making inflammatory speeches that inspired attackers at a Bangladesh café in July 2016, an official said Friday, one day after the cleric was charged with inciting communal hatred.
In a charge-sheet filed in a Mumbai court late Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleged that televangelist Zakir Naik was involved in a criminal conspiracy to foment terrorism and hatred among religious communities by lauding terrorist outfits.
The 61-page document viewed by BenarNews also accused Naik’s now-forbidden Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and his company Harmony Media Pvt. Ltd. (HMPL) of forwarding his agenda.
Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons.
“We are already preparing papers to get him deported back to India,” an NIA official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity. Naik, who left the country in June 2016, is believed to be traveling between the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.
Meanwhile, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) president on Friday defended Naik against the charge sheet filed in India, the Malay Mail reported.
“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” Hadi said in an opinion piece on Islamophobia published in Harakah Daily.
Naik had been scheduled to appear at a PAS-organized gathering of Muslim scholars in Malaysia’s Kelantan state in July, but cancelled after India revoked his passport.
Arrest warrant issued in April
In April, the Mumbai court issued a so-called non-bailable arrest warrant against Naik after he repeatedly ignored summons issued by India’s Enforcement Directorate to appear to respond to allegations of misuse of foreign funds donated to his NGO.
The Indian government imposed a five-year ban on IRF in November 2016, citing violations by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
“Since the money-laundering case against Naik hinged on the NIA investigation, it was necessary that the agency filed its charge-sheet,” public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar told BenarNews.
The NIA’s charge-sheet will allow the agency to approach Interpol for assistance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can then initiate the process of bringing Naik back, Venegaonkar said.
The NIA accused Zakir Naik of praising late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, supporting suicide attacks and denouncing Hindu gods during sermons delivered through Peace TV. The channel partly funded by the IRF is banned in several countries, including India and Bangladesh.
The NIA has “firmly established that the incriminating public speeches have been in circulation through electronic media such as CD/DVD and web portals Facebook/YouTube etc.,” the charge-sheet said.
“The minutes of IRF board of trustees’ meeting disclose that IRF has approved, organized, promoted and funded public lectures of accused Zakir Naik, including his incriminating speeches. The seized material such as DVD and books list IRF as the publisher,” it said.
The agency also established the role of HMPL in editing the incriminating material and “forwarding [Naik’s] speeches to the Global Broadcast Corporation Dubai for broadcast in the Peace TV.”
“The derogatory and malicious remarks were not just confined to faiths and beliefs of Hindus or Christians but also included non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi and Barelwis,” the NIA said.
The charge-sheet cited cases of several youths who were allegedly influenced by Naik’s sermons and attempted to join the Islamic State.
The accused “never included any reference to alternative interpretations by Muslim scholars of the views he presented nor sought to mitigate the potential offence by providing sufficient context for his remarks,” it said.
Lawyer prepared to challenge extradition
Zakir Naik’s lawyer S. Hariharan said he would wait to decide the next course of action.
“I have yet to receive the charge-sheet. Although as per protocol the charge-sheet is handed to the accused. But in this case, the accused is not present in the country,” Hariharan told Benarnews without divulging Naik’s current location.
“We will most certainly be seeking discharge after we receive the charge-sheet and will also challenge demands for extradition,” he added. (Benar News)
New Delhi, October 20: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday summoned RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav and in IRCTC Scam, connection with the alleged irregularities in a 2006 IRCTC hotels maintenance contract case, an official said.
An ED official, confirming the dates of the summons, told IANS: “We have summoned Tejashwi and Rabri Devi on October 24 and 27 respectively.”
He said Rabri Devi, who is also a former Bihar Chief Minister had asked the financial probe agency to question her in Patna. “We denied her request to question her in Patna and asked her to appear before the agency on October 27,” he said. Rabri Devi has already skipped the agency’s summons four times.
The agency had questioned fromer Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav on October 10, for over nine hours in connection with alleged IRCTC Scam.
Earlier, Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi were questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for hours in connection with the case on October 5 and 6 respectively.
The ED, on July 27, had registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR in the matter and began probing Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.
The CBI, on July 5, had filed a corruption case against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav for alleged irregularities in the allotment of contracts for Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, IRCTC Scam in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railway Minister.
The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar — both named in the CBI FIR as accused — in lieu of a bribe in the form of a three-acre commercial plot at a prime location in Bihar’s Patna district, the CBI said.
A preliminary CBI inquiry found the land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing Company and the payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia, another accused. The ED has since also questioned Ahluwalia.
Delight Marketing, which bought the property from the Kochhars, was later taken over by Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav, alleges the CBI.
Sarla Gupta, wife of the RJD chief’s close associate and former Union Minister Prem Chand Gupta and a director of Delight Marketing, is a co-accused in the case, apart from then IRCTC Managing Director P.K. Goel.(IANS)