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Peace TV and Zakir Naik’s other business ventures
NEW DELHI: Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu has dismissed allegations that Zakir Naik’s Peace TV was denied broadcasting rights because it is Islamic.
The licence was not given because it failed to get security clearance. The government had asked for information related to the promoters of the channel and its sources of funding. The channel did not provide these details.
“The allegation that Peace TV was denied broadcasting rights because it is Islamic’ is completely false. In India, there has not been discrimination on the basis of religion and will not be there in the near future as well. The accusation is completely false. If the channel did not have permission, then there is no questioning of banning it,” Naidu told the media.
In 2008 the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had denied broadcasting rights to Peace TV after it failed to provide its funding details, he said.
“In 2008 Peace TV filed an application requesting for broadcasting licence in India. Later, in 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs, after detailed analysis, rejected their application,” he said.
Peace TV’s application was referred to the MHA again, and the ministry sought details about its funding sources, which it failed to provide, he said.
“This happened in 2008 and 2009. We are in 2016 now. This clears the situation. In 2012 too, the MHA had sought their details…for whatever reasons…someone may have approached it then. Those details they (the owners) could not furnish. That’s the end of the story,” Naidu said.
The owners of Peace TV had applied as Supreme Multi Network to download the channel in India in the news and current affairs category.
Not much is known about Peace TV’s funding sources. Yet, Peace TV is not the only business with which Naik has been associated.
He also set up a video and television software production house and two real estate companies in Mumbai between 2005 to 2008.
Production house Harmony Media was incorporated in 2005, The Indian Express reported. Zakir Naik was its managing director from 8 May 2006 until he resigned on 13 March 2013. His wife was appointed to its board on 8 May 2006 and resigned on 15 March 2013.
Harmony Media reported a steady growth in revenue—from Rs 4.7 crore in 2008–09 to Rs 10.16 crore at the end of March 2015.
RoC records show that Zakir Naik and his wife, Farhat Zakir Naik, were promoters-cum-directors of two real estate companies, namely Longlast Construction and Right Property Solutions, until March 2013, IE reported.
There was reportedly no income posted by both these companies in the seven-year period between FY09 and FY15. But one company reported a surge in borrowings. However, Harmony Media, the video and TV software production house, posted significant revenue growth.
Longlast Construction was incorporated in 2008 and had long-term borrowings from related parties—Arshad Wahedna, Nailah Naushad Noorani (RoC documents show his father’s name as Abdulkarim Mohammed Naik) and Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar (director of the company).
According to the company’s balance sheet, while its total long-term borrowings stood at Rs 2.9 crore at the end of March 2010, it rose to Rs 14.8 crore at the end of March 2015. Of this, Rs 10.8 crore (72.9% of the aggregate borrowing) was borrowed from Wahedna, and Rs 4 crore (27%) from Noorani, IE reported.
Right Property Solutions, which was incorporated in May 2008 and promoted by Zakir Naik, his wife and father, also did not report any revenue in the last seven years.
The promoter of Harmony Media, Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar, is also on the board of Longlast Construction.
The RoC documents cited by The Indian Express report also show that Nailah Naushad Noorani was appointed to the boards of the two real estate companies on 12 March 2013 after Zakir Naik’s resignation from their boards on 28 February 2013.
He was also appointed to the board of video production house Harmony Media six months after his resignation from the company.
Other than these associations, Naik happens to be a partner in Modern Diagnostic Centre based in Mumbai and his wife Farhat is the proprietor of Islamic Books International, in Dongri, Mumbai, according to the IE report.
Besides India, Zakir Naik’s business activities seem to have a presence in neighbouring Bangladesh as well.
In fact, Bangladesh authorities have also banned Zakir Naik’s Peace mobile phone, only a few days after banning his Peace TV, the Bangladeshi media has reported.
“These phones cannot be allowed anymore because there’s a clear instruction from the government to stop all kinds of publicity of Zakir Naik,” bdnews24.com quoted Bangladesh telecom regulator BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood as saying.
The Bangladesh-based Beximco Group had imported Naik’s Peace mobile phones and marketed these as ‘Islamic mobile handsets’ across that nation.
According to the website of the brand, Naik’s Peace mobile phones came pre-loaded with options to access Naik’s Peace TV sermons in English, Hindi and Urdu.