The ban on televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO, the Islamic Research Foundation, and the charges against him, are based on investigations by two agencies, the special branch (SB) of the Mumbai police and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
The SB, which investigated Naik’s activities and speeches, said it found they were subversive and liable to promote enmity between people of different religions.
The second part of the investigation, conducted by the EOW, sought to uncover the sources of funding of IRF, which the government has declared an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The EOW found IRF used several lakhs of rupees that it received as religious funds for other purposes and thus violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, or FCRA. Most of the money received by IRF came from Saudi Arabia, the EOW’s probe revealed.
The two agencies will now take a closer look at the ownership and funding of the various entities that NIA officials raided on Saturday, including the offices of IRF and Harmony Media, which together employ 150 people. There is still lack of clarity on how the raided entities are linked with each other and how money flows between them, officials said.
Naik has been in the spotlight ever since a newspaper in Bangladesh reported that two of the six terrorists who carried out terrorist attacks in Dhaka in June had claimed to have drawn inspiration from Naik’s sermons. Naik, who has been in Saudi Arabia since July, said in a press conference with journalists in India over Skype that month that he would not be returning to India this year.
“The funding and activities of IRF proved to be equally detrimental for Naik as the organisation, claimed to have been floated for spreading Islam, was found to be violating the Foreign Currency (Regulation) Act. Funds meant for religious purposes were diverted elsewhere. IRF’s connection to the missing 22 men from Kerala was also found when the father of one of the men lodged complaint with Mumbai police,” said a police officer, who did not wish to be named.