The government decided to declare controversial TV evangelist Zakir Naik’s outfit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on Tuesday.
Following the government notification, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — that was waiting for a final go-ahead from the Union home ministry — may register an FIR against Naik and IRF on charges of alleged violation of the UAPA.
1) The Union government has decided to declare controversial TV evangelist Zakir Naik’s outfit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association for five years under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act — or UAPA — on Tuesday. Following the government notification, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — it was waiting for a final go-ahead from the Union home ministry — may register an FIR against Naik and IRF on charges of alleged violation of the UAPA.
2) The government declaration, in effect, means no person can hold meetings, collect funds or become a member or office-bearer of the IRF, whose website says it is a registered, nonprofit, public charitable trust. A ban under the UAPA is valid for five years. The decision to declare the IRF unlawful was approved by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, home ministry sources said.
3) The Mumbai police may also move against the state-based organisation if it continues with its activities. However, as of now, the Mumbai police have not received any notification pertaining to the ban on televangelist Naik’s IRF — and awaits one to initiate further action. The IRF headquarter is located in Dongri and its activities were investigated on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ orders. “We are yet to receive a notification of the order,” joint police commissioner Deven Bharti told HT. “Only once we get it, can we decide upon the execution of the order. There is still no clarity on the specifics of the action and technically what has been banned.”
4) Naik, who is in Thailand at present, is accused of dodging the police after charges that his sermons allegedly influenced the Dhaka café attackers. Bangladesh has also banned Naik’s Peace TV. “Once we get a copy of the government notification, we may challenge in it court,” said Naik’s spokesperson Aarif Malik. “Naik is supposed to return to India in January or February next year. There is no change in his plan to come back to India.”
5) A separate probe was earlier initiated by the Special Branch (SB), the Mumbai police’s intelligence wing and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) focusing on the managerial and monetary aspects of the IRF.
6) The SB had rummaged through several published material and audio records of Naik’s sermons that were in public domain, and found them controversial. The SB also unearthed the editing studio of Naik’s banned ‘Peace TV’ channel which operated from another building near the IRF’s office in Dongri. The studio, which operated under the name Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, compiled Naik’s sermons that were to be shipped to other countries and aired in at least half-a-dozen foreign languages. The channel was banned is India in 2012.
7) The EOW, on the other hand, found funds to the tune of several lakhs that the IRF received as religious funds and were allegedly being used for other purposes, which amounted to violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. Central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence were also part of the enquiry against Naik and the IRF.
8) The Mumbai police probe also linked one of the IRF’s employees Arshi Qureshi, a guest relationship manager, to a group of 22 men who went missing from Kerala. The probe was being conducted by the Kerala police and assisted by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, leading to startling revelations on how IRF was also part of conversion rackets.
9) Both Khan and Qureshi were arrested and a radicalisation case was registered with the Nagpada police after Abdul Majeed Kadar Khan, father of Ashfaq — one of the missing Kerala youth — lodged a complaint. The Mumbai Crime Branch, which probed the case, later had recovered the conversion documents of 60 persons from Khan’s Kalyan home. The case is being investigated by NIA now.
10) There are previous cases against against Naik for his controversial remarks against Hindu gods. Also cases against him have been filed in Kurla, Vengurla, Sawantwadi and outside Maharashtra also. Naik has filed an application in the SC demanding all these cases to be investigated by one agency. His plea is pending.