A DAY after it emerged that some Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials had renewed FCRA registration of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the NGO run by controversial televangelist Zakir Naik, sources Friday said the registration is likely to be revoked, pending clearance on completion of an ongoing inquiry.
The registration is learnt to have been renewed on August 19 even as a probe is on against IRF for allegedly inspiring several people with suspected terror links.
On Thursday, three MHA officials involved in renewal of IRF’s registration — Under Secretaries Ipsita Saha Paul and Deepak Kumar and Section Officer Usha Bhangu — were suspended for negligence, while a data entry operator, Shyam Babu Kumar Manjhi, was removed.
The MHA brass had decided to suspend Joint Secretary (Foreigners Division) G K Dwivedi, and a formal order to this effect was signed on Friday, it is learnt.
“We have an online automated system for smooth process of FCRA registration or renewal, but registration cannot be renewed when a probe is under way against the applicant,” a source in the home ministry said. “The FCRA monitoring unit should have raised a red flag, which did not happen. The renewal of IRF’s FCRA registration will be revoked, pending clearance on completion of an ongoing inquiry.”
NGOs need registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to receive foreign funds.
The registration was renewed at a time when the MHA had sought legal opinion to ascertain whether Naik is liable to be gagged and IRF declared an unlawful organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The officials suspended worked in MHA’s Foreigners Division, which was scrutinising whether IRF had violated any foreign funding norms under FCRA, and had sent an FCRA notice to the NGO last month.
The source also said that security agencies had laid a trap at Mumbai airport to arrest Naik in mid-July, when the controversial preacher was scheduled to arrive in Mumbai to address a press conference. Naik cancelled his travel plan. “The idea at that stage was to get Naik in the police net first, and then deal with further steps,” the source said.
Earlier this week, sources had revealed that the MHA had received legal opinion to conduct a more exhaustive analysis of Naik’s speeches before any decision is taken on whether to gag him and ban the IRF as an unlawful association. Not enough evidence is on record at present to proceed against Naik, the MHA has reportedly been told.