Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation on Sunday dismissed the allegations against the Islamic preacher and the organisation as baseless, and said the First Information Reported filed by the National Investigation Agency on November 19 was illegal.
An IRF member told Mint: “The FIR is illegal because another FIR had been registered in 2012, for the same crime, regarding inflammatory speeches and offending different religious groups. It had been investigated and the matter had been closed.” He said the FIR holds little meaning because it was filed after imposing a ban on the NGO for four years.
The FIR was filed against Naik for indulging in unlawful activities and promoting hatred between different religious groups through his speeches. The complaint was filed under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language) of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on Friday evening.
The NIA officials and the Mumbai Police also conducted raids at 10 branches of Naik’s organisation in the city. Naik could be called for questioning soon, reported CNN-News 18. He is currently out of the country. Naik was also issued a showcause notice on November 2, after his NGO was denied the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence for six months.
Officials had said multiple violations of the FCRA were among the reasons for cancelling the Islamic Research Foundation’s registration. Another one of Naik’s NGOs – the Islamic Research Foundation Educational Trust, which runs the Islamic International School in Chennai and Mumbai – has been added under the “prior permission” category.
The televangelist has been under the government’s lens ever since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the terrorists behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1. He was also accused of meeting two brothers from Kerala who were among those who went missing in West Asia and are feared to have joined the Islamic State group. The police had also arrested a few members of the IRF for allegedly radicalising men from Kerala to join the Islamic State group. The case is now being investigated by the NIA.