The Uttar Pradesh ATS, intensifying its search operations in the illegal mass conversion case, has made the sixth arrest. The accused Salahuddin Sheikh was nabbed in a joint operation by the Gujarat and UP ATS in Gujarat.
Sheikh who is the Managing Trustee of AFMI Charitable Trust in Vadodra, used to divert the foreign funds to Umar Gautam for religious conversions, as per a Desh Gujarat report.
Interacting with The Indian Express, a senior official of the Gujarat ATS revealed, “Accused Salahuddin Sheikh was arrested from Vadodara and produced before a court in Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening. We have received the transit remand till July 3 for the accused and he has been handed over to the UP ATS team, which will take him to Lucknow.”
UP ATS in a statement has informed that Sheikh confessed to knowing Umar Gautam and diverting hawala money to Umar to fund the religious conversion.
Sheikh had allegedly diverted Rs 30 lakhs to Umar Gautam, the founder of Islamic Da’wah Centre which is under scanner for illegal religious conversions.
Details of the funding
As per FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) submissions, Sheikh’s NGO received nearly Rs 10 crore in foreign funds in a period of four years during 2016-2021 as per its.
As per the Desh Gujarat report, Salahuddin Sheikh’s NGO had received around Rs 4 crore directly from a foreign source during the financial year 2019-20. In 2018-19 AFMI received funds to the tune of Rs 2.75 crores while in 2017-18 the NG received over Rs 1.4 crores. A similar amount was donated to the NGO in the financial year 2016-17 which reflected to be around Rs 1.62 crores. However, the data for 2020-2021 is not clear as yet.
The majority of the funds received by the Salahuddin’s NGO were from UK and American based organizations- Zulekha Zinga Foundation (UK), Majlis Al Fatah Trust (UK), Gujarati Muslim Association of America (US), Firdous Foundation (UK), lkhar Village Welfare Trust (UK) and North West Relief Trust (UK).
These funds were allegedly being taken under the garb of maintaining hospitals and educating the poor. Some NGO listings website claim that AFMI Charitable Trust runs a 50-bed charitable hospital, provides monthly rations to widows and destitute and runs an English medium school in the tribal area of Chhota Udepur.
Gautam had close ties with hate speech peddler Zakir Naik and Bilal Philips
According to report published on Republic TV, Umar Gautam has links with fugitive hate speech peddler Zakir Naik and his close aide Bilal Philips, who in turn is associated with terror outfits such as Taliban and Hamas.