A bitter verbal duel ensued between the Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Azmi and BJP member Anil Gote at the state Assembly hall entrance on banning Islamic Research Foundation, which is run by televangelist Zakir Naik, on Thursday.
An agitated Gote even accused Azmi of helping a person and his institution in promoting terrorist activities.
It started when Azmi raised the issue of the Islamic International School after the question hour in the Assembly and said the state should not shut the school run by a trust, linked to the banned IRF, as it would jeopardize the future of students enrolled there as well as the teaching staff.
While expressing concern for the students’ future, Azmi requested the government to let the school run. He said Naik never advocated any violence and always guided people towards harmony. He said all the 167 students of the school must not suffer since its management was controlled by a separate education trust.
Gote immediately stood up for rebuttal and said the government should not allow an institution that promotes terrorism to function. However, the chair did not allow Gote to speak and changed the agenda.
Later, when Gote saw Azmi at the Assembly’s entrance he shouted at him and accused the SP MLA of protecting anti-nationals. The bitter verbal duel between both the leaders continued for a few minutes till other legislators around them intervened and pacified both of them.
The Islamic International School is located at Mazagaon and runs classes from nursery to Class 10. It is affiliated to the IGCSE and has 120 teachers. In addition to the regular academic curriculum, the students there are also taught Quranic texts and Arabic.
The IRF was banned by the Union home ministry for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for its alleged involvement in terror acts. The ban will affect activities of all bodies, including the school, affiliated with the Mumbai-based NGO.