IRF ban: Mumbai police await notification, clarity before initiating action
The Mumbai police has not received any notification pertaining to the ban on televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (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. Only once we get it, can we decide upon the execution of the action ordered. There is still no clarity on the specifics of the action and technically what has been banned,” joint police commissioner Deven Bharti told Hindustan Times.
A separate probe was initiated by the Special Branch (SB), Mumbai police’s intelligence wing and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) focusing on the managerial and monetary aspects of the IRF. The SB rummaged through several published material and audio records of Naik’s sermons that were in public domain and the cops found it controversial after studying it.
The EOW, on the other hand, found funds to the tune of several lakhs that were received by the IRF as religious funds and were allegedly being used for other purposes, which amounted to Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violations. Central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) were also part of the enquiry against Naik and the IRF.
During the course of investigation, the SB had 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 which were to be shipped to other countries and aired in at least half a dozen foreign languages. The channel was banned is India few years ago.
The 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 was assisted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which led to startling revelations of how IRF was also part of the conversion rackets in the city.
Hindustan Times had reported that over 800 people, who mainly belonged to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, were indoctrinated by IRF with the help of their local operatives and were brought to Mumbai. Here they were taken to different places in Dongri-Mazgaon belt and were converted to Islam with the help of maulvi Rizwan Khan.
Both Khan and Qureshi were arrested and a radicalisation case was registered with the Nagpada police in Mumbai after Abdul Majeed Kadar Khan, 60, father of Ashfaq — one of the missing Kerala youth — lodged a complaint. Mumbai crime branch, which probed the case, later had recovered the conversion documents of 60 persons from Khan’s Kalyan home. These included papers of Bestin Vincent (now Yayha), Merin Jacob (Marriyam) and Nimisha (Fatima), who were part of the group of 22 feared to have joined ISIS. Bestin, Merin and Nimisha travelled to Dubai and then to Tehran. They are believed to have entered ISIS-controlled territory via the Afghanistan border.