The Islamic Research Foundation, the NGO run by controversial tele-evangelist Zakir Naik, was on Tuesday banned with the Union Cabinet deciding to declare it an outlawed organisation under the anti-terror law.
The decision to invoke Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the IRF came at a meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had in late October moved a Cabinet note for declaring the IRF an ‘unlawful association’. Earlier this month, the MHA had initiated the process of cancelling the licence for the IRF to collect foreign funds.
The move by the government came after investigations by several agencies found a series illegalities, including IRF’s links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel that is facing charges of abetting terrorism.
Naik was also under the scanner for the provocative speeches, which several terror recruits claimed inspired them. The Cabinet note circulated to ministers had also spoken about Naik transferring IRF’s funds collected from abroad to Peace TV.
The renewed focus on Naik came after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that Rohan Imtiaz, son of an Awami League leader who was among the five terrorists who targeted a Dhaka restaurant, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting him. In his lecture aired on Peace TV, Naik had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists”.
A series of investigations followed this and agencies claimed they had found a number of irregularities in the functioning of the NGOs and institutions run by Naik.
The Maharashtra Police also registered cases against Naik for his “involvement” in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities.
As the heat increased, Naik refused to return to India fearing arrest and stay put in Saudi Arabia. He also did not visit Mumbai when his father died recently.
The MHA had in September issued an order disallowing the IRF to receive foreign funds without prior the RBI approval. The decision to put the NGO under prior permission category came after a preliminary inquiry found that the NGO was carrying out activities contrary to the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) and irregularities in its account books. The 50-year-old is trained as a doctor but had turned evangelist and founded the Islamic Research Foundation in 1991.