The controversy of donations made by the Islamic Research Foundationm (IRF) to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) doesn’t seem to be abetting. As per a report published in TOI, apart from a Rs 50 lakh donation RGCT received from the IRF, there was another donation amounting to Rs 25 lakh applied for by the trust. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are the trustees of this particular trust.
The donation made by Zakir Naik’s IRF to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in 2011 was unearthed recently and the whole amount was returned by the trust around 6 months back when Zakir Naik and his NGO came under public scanner.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi in Congress’s defense stressed that the donation was made before IRF’s embroilment in the terror and forced conversion allegations, and that the donation was an unsolicited one time thing. So assuming his defense to be true lets now look at the following points.
First the manner in which the IRF tried to donate the 25 lakh to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust: It didn’t make a direct donation. It transferred the amount to the Mumbai based M H Saboo Siddique Maternity and General Hospital with the instructions of having the hospital route the funds to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.
The hospital was paid Rs 30 lakh out of which Rs 5 lakh were assigned for its own utilization and the rest were to be passed on to the RGCT. Incidentally there were reports in 2015 of the hospital getting shut down by the BMC as the hospital was flouting its PPP norms by running a full super specialty hospital even though it only had permission to run a Maternity Home. Interestingly the whole amount was finally used up by the hospital itself after the IRF kept flip flopping on the end beneficiaries like instructing the amount to be transferred to Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital and later to an organisation named KARM.
So if IRF was a totally non-controversial organisation at that time as claimed by the Congress spokesperson, why wasn’t the amount directly received by RGCT in the first place?
Secondly, if the amount in itself was unsolicited, why did the resolutions passed by the IRF claim that the amount was released after it received applications from the RCF and RGCT respectively. Should Congress not be attacking Zakir Naik for making things up?
Thirdly, if the donations were indeed a one-off thing as claimed by Mr Singhvi then how come reports have surfaced of two donations of 50 lakh and 25 lakh respectively.
Now apart from this, lets look at the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust for a moment. They chiefly have two areas of charity namely in the field of Eye care and most importantly ‘Women Empowerment’. If the TOI report is to be believed, the RGCT asked for funds partly to utilize them for women’s empowerment. And they reached out to NGO of Zakir Naik, who has famously condoned ‘light beating‘ of a wife by her husband. The video of Zakir Naik’s speech was uploaded back in Feb 2011 so it was before or around the time RGCT asked for funds.
The relationship between the IRF and the Congress doesn’t end with donations, in October 2012 senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was seen sharing the stage with Zakir Naik.
So the party has much to answer than to virtually claim that Zakir Naik was in one-sided love with the party, where his NGO kept donating to trusts and organisations linked with Congress or its leaders.