New Delhi: Under scanner over alleged terror links, controversial televangelist Zakir Abdul Karim Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) could be banned, said reports on Monday.
The Law Ministry has informed the central government regarding its proposed move, which is seen as an attempt to corner the controversial physician-turned-preacher accused of motivating terrorists.
Also, to bolster its case, the government has compiled a list of FIRs registered against Naik - especially one filed in 2005 and another in 2012.
The Law Ministry's proposal for action against Naik is based on these FIRs.
The Home Ministry has been informed that the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), founded by the Mumbai-based Naik in 1991, could be declared “unlawful” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
“The law ministry’s opinion makes a clear case of banning the IRF by declaring it an unlawful organisation,” a senior home ministry official was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Such a move will mean no person can be a member of the IRF - whose website says it is a registered non-profit public charitable trust - hold meetings or collect funds.
A ban under UAPA is valid for five years.
Naik, who is said to be currently in west Asia, is accused of dodging police after allegations that his sermons influenced a terrorist killed in the July 1 Dhaka siege. Bangladesh has banned Naik’s Peace TV, saying it incited the attack on a Dhaka café in which 22 people were gunned down.
His trouble compounded after suspicion that his speeches inspired 20-odd people, who disappeared from Kerala and feared to have joined the Islamic State terrorist outfit.
His media adviser Aarif Malik defended the preacher on Sunday, saying no government agency has sent any notice or summons to Naik.
“Naik has no plans to return to India at least this year due to his prior engagements (abroad). But he has promised to cooperate in any probe by the government,” he said.
Zakir Naik’s advocate Mubin Solkar, however, said that it is totally unjustified to propose a ban against IRF.
If the UAPA is invoked to ban the organisation, the government will have to prove its charges in a specially appointed tribunal.
The law says an outfit can be called “unlawful” if there are allegations that its activities are “prejudicial to national integration”, or promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion and race, and doing acts intending to or supporting secessionism.
Naik and IRF’s activities have been questioned after the Dhaka attack, although the qualified doctor has been under surveillance since the 2003 serial blasts in Mumbai, when his name cropped up.