Criticising the Centre’s decision to declare the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) run by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, as an “outlawed organisation” under the anti-terror law for its alleged terror activities, Naik on Friday said this must be the most unique ban to be applied in the history of India, because not a single time was I questioned or given a chance to explain.
“Not a single chance. No notice, no summons, no calls and no contact ever made with me to get my side of the story. I kept offering my help in investigation, but it wasn’t taken. The entire investigation was completed without any agency asking me a single question about my so-called ‘wrongdoings’,” said Naik in a statement issued by his office here.
Expressing his resolve to fight back the ban, the Islamic preacher said, “Now that they’ve banned me without asking me a single question, I have no choice left but to answer them only through the legal system and not personally. Their agenda is open and clear: implicate me by hook or by crook, which I will fight.”
Naik’s counsel Mobin Solkar had on Saturday told ANI that the case filed by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) against his client under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is illegal, as the Supreme Court earlier granted a stay in a similar case, and hence, any fresh complaint on the same grounds would stand void.
“Earlier in the year 2012 an FIR was registered by the office bearers of some organisation against Zakir Naik under section 153 A and in response we filed a petition in the apex court and the court granted stay to all those proceedings in the FIR. So, fresh FIR for the same offence is not maintainable in law so they cannot be two FIR for one offence,” Solkar told ANI.
Solankar further maintained that from 2012 till date, Dr. Naik has not given any lecture which can be a cause of action for filing a fresh FIR against him.
He, however, conceded that the investigative agency is entitled to search and visit the premises of the IRF owned by Naik and the organisation would comply with all the investigative processes carried out by the NIA.
“The NIA, irrespective of the legality of the FIR, is empowered to investigate the matter and they are carrying out their investigation and we are ready to cooperate as far the investigation is concerned. IRF has been a law abiding trust and we are ready to fully cooperate with the investigative agency,” Solankar said.
So far, more than 20 premises, connected to the proscribed Naik’s NGO IRF, during which video tapes and DVDs of Zakir Naik’s public speeches, documents related to property and investment, financial transactions, foreign and domestic funding of the proscribed IRF as well as its associated companies, and electronic storage devices recovered, said an NIA statement.
The investigation has revealed that the proscribed IRF has close connections with Harmony Media Private Limited, Longlast Constructions Private Limited, Right Property Solutions Private Limited, Majestic Perfumes Private Limited and Alpha Lubricants Private Limited. Documents pertaining to inflow and outflow of foreign and domestic funding, which have been recovered during search operations, are being scrutinised.
The investigation has also revealed that Abu Anas, a resident of Tonk in Rajasthan, arrested and chargesheeted accused person in the NIA ISIS Case, had received Rs 80,000 from the proscribed IRF as scholarship in October 2015. Abu Anas had planned to go to Syria to fight along with ISIS in the same period. He was arrested by the NIA in January.
Investigation is continuing.
On Monday, the authorities blocked the websites of IRF for allegedly spreading objectionable contents, speeches and videos.
As per reports, the NIA will also raise the issue of suspension of videos on YouTube and Facebook pages with the U.S. since the servers are located there.
The NIA had on Friday registered a case against Naik and others under sections 10 (Penalty for being member of an unlawful association) and 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities) and other various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said the spokesperson.
The Union Government had had on Tuesday declared the IRF as an “outlawed organisation” under the anti-terror law for its alleged terror activities, following which the Maharashtra Government said it would keep a close eye on locals and organisations funding the IRF and would be treated as “anti-social elements”.
However, the IRF said it would be arguing before a Central government tribunal against the validity of the ban imposed on it and invoking of the UAPA. (ANI)