Controversial Tele-evangelist Zakir Naik (File Photo | PTI)
Controversial Tele-evangelist Zakir Naik (File Photo | PTI)

UAPA tribunal confirms five-year extension of ban imposed on fugitive Zakir Naik's IRF

The IRF was first banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967) by the central government on November 17, 2016.

NEW DELHI: A tribunal under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has confirmed the Centre's decision declaring Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as unlawful and imposing a five-year ban on the organisation set up by fugitive Zakir Naik who is accused of inspiring Muslim youths in India and abroad to commit terror acts.

The one-member tribunal, which was constituted by the government last year to consider whether there was sufficient cause for declaring IRF as an unlawful association, said in its order dated March 9 that there was "sufficient cause" behind the imposition of the ban on the association.

The then Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel, who was the presiding officer of the tribunal, stated that he was "in full agreement" with the submissions made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, and there was material to show that IRF was indulging in unlawful activities.

The tribunal observed that IRF involved in activities which not only incites and encourages the youth to undertake the unlawful activities with an intent to threaten the sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of India but also causes disaffection against the country and there is every reason to conclude that the organisation be declared as an unlawful association.

The IRF was first banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967) by the central government on November 17, 2016.

The ban was extended for five years on November 15, 2021.

In a notification, the Union home ministry said the central government had constituted a tribunal consisting of Justice D N Patel, Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi, on December 13, 2021 for adjudicating whether or not there was sufficient cause for declaring the IRF as an unlawful association.

"Whereas, the said tribunal in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 4 of the said Act (UAPA), passed an order on the March 9, 2022, confirming the declaration made in the said notification," it said.

It further said that a perusal of the evidence showed that the "actions and conduct of Dr Zakir Naik, who is admittedly heart and soul of IRF, are prejudicial to the national interest of India".

"This tribunal is of the view that there are sufficient reasons and causes for declaring the Islamic Research Foundation as an unlawful association and consequently, this tribunal confirms the Notification dated 15.11.2021, issued by the government of India for the imposition of ban on IRF for a period of five years with effect from the date of the aforesaid notification, i.e.15.11.2021," said the order which was published by the home ministry on March 30.

The tribunal rejected IRF's submission that after the imposition of a ban in 2016, it did not undertake any activity that is prejudicial to the national interest of the country and stated that "it appears that IRF and its office bearers have continued to indulge in unlawful activities which are detrimental to the national interest".

"Upon perusal of relevant evidence submitted by central government, it is apparent that not only Dr.

Zakir Naik continues to be active on social media but he also continues to propagate his activities in various Gulf countries.

It can be safely stated from the perusal of the evidence, that actions and conduct of Dr.

Zakir Naik, who is admittedly heart and soul of IRF, are prejudicial to the national interest of India," the order said.

"The entire material placed on record goes to show that the IRF is involved in such activities which not only incite and encourage the youth to undertake the unlawful activities with an intent to threaten the sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of India but also cause disaffection against India, which leaves no doubt that the ingredients of Sections 2(1)(o) and 2(1)(p) of UAPA, 1967 are met and there is every reason to conclude that the IRF be declared as an unlawful association," it stated.

Naik, who was born in Mumbai fled India in the wake of July 1, 2016 bombing at a cafe in Dhaka.

He is accused of spreading hatred among different communities through his Peace TV and social media networks, where he has over 20 million followers.

He is currently living in Malaysia.

In that blast in Dhaka, terrorists killed over 20 people, including 17 foreigners.

One of the bombers of the Bangladesh capital had said that he was inspired by Naik's speeches.

Two of the many Kerala youths, who joined the Islamic State, had said that they were attracted to the Middle-East's deadliest terror group after meeting the controversial preacher.

Naik has denied having any role in any of these incidents.

Zahran Hashim, the leader of National Thowheeth Jama'ath, the group which claimed the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, had praised Naik and asked Sri Lankan Muslims what they could do for him.

Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, the Easter Sunday.

The home ministry had said it is of the opinion that the IRF and its members, particularly, the founder and president, Zakir Abdul Karim Naik alias Zakir Naik, has been encouraging and aiding its followers to promote or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities and groups which are prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country.

The home ministry said the statements and speeches made by Naik are objectionable and subversive and through them he has been promoting enmity and hatred among religious groups and inspiring youths of a particular religion in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts.

Naik also makes radical statements and speeches to millions of people worldwide through international satellite TV network, Internet, print and social media, it said.

The ministry said Naik's activities will disrupt the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of the people by creating communal disharmony, propagate anti-national sentiments, escalate secessionism by supporting militancy and some people may undertake activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

India has been pursuing with Malaysia its request for extradition of the fugitive evangelist without any success.

He has permanent residency of Malaysia, which gave him shelter after countries like Britain and Canada denied him visas.

Naik's hardline interpretation of Islam earned him a distinct following but he attracted attention of security agencies as well.

There are multiple cases filed by the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate against Naik.

After his Peace TV English, he had also launched the Urdu and Bangla versions of the channel and these were banned in many countries over allegations of radical views and hate campaign.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com