Controversial television evangelist Zakir Naik’s Mumbai-based outfit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will no longer be allowed to receive foreign funding.
“We have initiated the process of cancellation of foreign funding licence of the IRF,” said a senior home ministry official. The MHA issues foreign funding license for all NGOs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
Earlier the MHA had put Naik’s organisation in prior-permission category under the FCRA, which meant all foreign funding of the NGO was to be vetted by the government before it went into the IRF’s bank account.
The MHA is also putting another outfit of Naik’s -- The IRF Educational Trust --in the prior permission category. “We are issuing a notice to the trust for putting it under the prior permission category. We want to vet all foreign funding of the trust before it is deposited in outfit’s bank account,” said the official.
Besides, the government is almost ready with a cabinet note on the IRF to declare it ‘unlawful’ under section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Final vetting is being done.
The declaration will mean no person can be a member of the foundation, hold meetings or collect funds for it. The existing assets of the outfit declared ‘unlawful’ can be taken over by the government by appointing a receiver for them.
Naik hit the headlines after an attack on a bakery in Dhaka in July that left 29 people dead. Investigators found that the militants who staged the strike were motivated by Naik’s speeches on Peace TV, owned by the controversial preacher.
The revelation was immediately followed by similar charges with many saying that the evangelist was among the reasons for a growth in hardline elements among Muslim youth. The government soon started a crackdown on his activities, forcing Naik to leave India. He hasn’t come since, even to attend his father’s funeral in Mumbai two days ago. He faces multiple probes for allegedly making provocative speeches.