Zakir Naik’s IRF shut in Mumbai, but its school to ‘continue operations for now’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/zakir-naiks-irf-shut-in-mumbai-but-its-school-to-continue-operations-for-now-4383253/

Zakir Naik’s IRF shut in Mumbai, but its school to ‘continue operations for now’

Education minister Vinod Tawde has, however, said the children studying in the school will be rehabilitated so that their education is not affected.

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A police officer stands guard outside the office of Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation at Bhendi Bazaar on Friday. Source: Prashant Nadkar

Even as the Islamic Research Foundation’s (IRF) tiny Dongri office with its 21 employees shut immediately after the Mumbai Police notice Thursday evening, the Islamic International School (IIS) run under the IRF Educational Trust lingers in uncertainty over its operations.

The Union home ministry had earlier this week banned controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s organisation for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Mumbai Police will now take action against people found members of the IRF or propagating its literature. Properties attached with the IRF, its offices and library, will also be under the scanner.

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“We have 21 employees operating out of the Dongri office. There are no official volunteers attached with us,” said administrative manager of IRF, Manzoor Shaikh. The weekly scholarly programmes conducted by the IRF had stopped in July itself, when the controversy against its founder Naik first broke, Shaikh said. Naik has been under the scanner for his “objectionable” preaching about Islam.

The organisation, that claims it produces literature on Islam and spreads Islamic teachings through its programmes, also handles the IRF Educational Trust, which runs a school from Nursery to Class X. “We are yet to study the entire notice to understand if the Islamic International School will be affected by the ban,” said spokesperson Arif Malik.

Education minister Vinod Tawde has, however, said the children studying in the school will be rehabilitated so that their education is not affected.

The IIS’s current website shows Zakir Naik as its principal. It was founded in 2003, located close to Princess Dock. On Thursday, the school had no board indicating its connection with the IRF. While vice-principal Kamal Shaikh refused to comment, teachers working at the school said half-yearly exams were to be held here till December 1. The IIS runs classes in two buildings in Dongri and Mazagaon and has over 200 children enrolled.

While junior classes are held in Dongri, students from Class VI to Class X attend the Mazagaon school. “We have not been told about any ban by the management. I have worked here for three years. I do not know where to go next,” said Jamail Munwal, security guard at the school.

The three-storey Mazagaon school has also not informed its students about the ban. Students since the past week have only been coming in the morning to take exams.

IRF was established in 1991, and holds lectures every Sunday through scholars on teachings of Islam.

“The organisation produces a lot of audio and video CDs on the teachings. There are also web shows and pamphlets. These activities have now been stopped,” Malik told The Indian Express.

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The organisation has also been holding a major conference on the Somaiya grounds for four years now, apart from a daily health camp in Mumbra. “We will approach the tribunal now with an appeal” added Shaikh.