Union minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday hit out at Congress over controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO donating Rs 50 lakh to an allied entity of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, saying instead of introspecting the party was falsely accusing the government of leaking information.
Rijiju said despite knowing about the transaction, the government did not make public the information or “play politics” over the issue.
“The issue of Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation donating Rs 50 lakh to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation or its related body…We knew it more than a month ago. But we did not want to play politics.
“So, we have asked for more information. In the meantime, some individual journalists filed RTI to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and got the information,” the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), founded by Naik, had donated Rs 50 lakh to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT), an associate entity of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, in 2011 but the amount was returned to IRF by RGCT in July 2016.
Both the IRF and the RGCT were registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act and such donation of foreign funds from one FCRA registered NGO to another is authorised and legally permitted.
Rijiju said there was no question of the government leaking the information or the documents.
“We knew it long time back but we did not want to play politics but to get the correct information whatever is there,” he said.
He said it was “unfortunate that rather than introspecting about what Congress has done, they are just making unnecessary accusation that the government is leaking out documentation.” “How can we leak documents like that?” he said on the sidelines of an event held to honour the families of gallantry award winners of central paramilitary forces.
The Congress had accused the government of leaking this information.
Rijiju later tweeted on the issue saying, “Every action of the government is not announced instantly. There are methods for getting to the bottom of the matter.” He added that “illegal inflow of money from outside will be strictly checked and we are doing it.”
While replying on Naik’s recent statement asking what wrong has he done, Rijiju said religion and terrorism cannot go hand in hand.
“We abhor equating religion with terrorism. Anybody who propagates terrorism will not bear anything with regard to identity or religion. We look at things that way. National security is most important,” Rijiju said.
The RGCT, a registered, not-for-profit organisation, was established in 2002 to address the development needs of underprivileged people in the country, especially the rural poor. It works in the poorest regions of Uttar Pradesh, one of the least developed states in the country and Haryana.
The IRF is embroiled in a controversy because of allegations that Naik was inciting youths for terror. An IRF spokesman had said a thorough probe was conducted earlier after the new government took over but they could not find any evidence against it.
The Home Ministry had suspended Joint Secretary G K Dwivedi, who was heading the foreigners division which deals with the FCRA related issues, and three other officials for renewing the licence of IRF.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had owned up the donation but claimed it was unsolicited and a one-off affair.
Singhvi emphasised that the donation preceded IRF’s embroilment in allegations of terror and forced conversions, adding Naik’s NGO was not on the watchlist at the time.
“It (donation) was discovered by chance when the recent events happened… and some months ago, a remittance was made,” Singhvi was quoted as saying.