MORE THAN Rs 60 crore received as donation by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and its use for conversion to Islam is among the multiple grounds cited in the Union Home Ministry’s notification, banning IRF under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for five years. The in-camera proceedings of the Delhi High Court tribunal, which were recently made public, further lists the investigation conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), claiming that it recovered 78 affidavits related to conversion of non-Muslims.
“Many of the conversion documents relate to the persons who were later found to have migrated to Afghanistan to join terrorist organisation ISIS…,” states Namrata Patil, SP from NIA (Mumbai) who deposed before the tribunal. The foundation was banned by the home ministry under UAPA in November last year and recently the tribunal upheld the ban.
Relying on the testimonies of police officers, the tribunal ruled that, “the activities of IRF not only incite and encourage the youth to undertake the unlawful activities with an intent to threaten sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of Indian but also causes disaffection against India…”
During the hearing, the tribunal also cross-examined home ministry officials, Mumbai police officers and played speeches delivered by Naik, including ‘Every Muslim should be a Terrorist,’ which was shared by Rohan Imtiaz, one of the youths who carried out the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka last year.
“Dr Zakir Naik, while defending Osama bin Laden, referred to George Bush, the then US President as a terrorist and stated — ‘As far as Osama bin Laden is concerned… I cannot base my answer just on the news reports. But one thing I can say for sure he is called on CNN Prime suspect number one… no proofs… As far as my knowledge, he is not the terrorist at all… Some of the people said that George Bush himself did it… Number one terrorist is George Bush’,” the tribunal noted.
On The Peace TV, a channel banned in several countries, the tribunal stated, “Though the channel portrays Dr Zakir Naik for his efforts in promoting unity, social justice, harmony and peace but his activities and propagation reflect differently.”
IRF’s defence, however, argued, “The incidents, statements and speeches which have been referred by the central government in the notification have been made by him in his individual capacity and not as the President of IRF… Moreover all the speeches or clippings available on YouTube/Internet were either fake or doctored…”