The ministry of home affairs (MHA) issued a notification on Wednesday 30th March 2022 to declare the Islamic Research Foundation an unlawful association and has banned the organization for five years.
Radical preacher Zakir Naik is the founder of this organization and he is accused of radicalizing Muslim youths through his religious sermons. On 15th November 2021, MHA had issued a notification in the same regard. Now when the tribunal under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) recently listened to the Union Government’s stand on this matter and passed an order on 9th March 2022, MHA issued the notification confirming the ban on Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation.
The notification issued by the MHA states, “The speeches of Zakir Naik, founder of the IRF, are objectionable as he has been extolling known terrorists, and also proclaiming that every Muslim should be a terrorist. He has also been promoting forcible conversion of the youth to Islam, justifying the suicide bombings, posting objectionable comments against Hindus, Hindu Gods, and other religions, which are derogatory to other religions.”
It further states, “Naik has also been further inspiring the Muslim youth and terrorists in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts. the unlawful activities of IRF, its members as well as sympathizers were noticed in Gujarat, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Odisha.”
Providing more details of the activities, the notification said, “These activities constitute a form of symbolic yet manifested invasion through the deliberate perpetuation of hate in the community done by IRF and its office bearers. Therefore, the aforesaid material shows that there exists sufficient cause to hold IRF an unlawful association.”
The tribunal under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) listened to the argument put forth by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared on behalf of the Union Government. Tushar Mehta submitted that there is overwhelming evidence on record to show that Zakir Naik continues to reach out to his followers in India by propagating his teachings through videos and making provocative speeches and lectures disseminated via various social media channels.
The tribunal said in its order, “The tribunal is satisfied that there existed sufficient cause for imposing the said ban on IRF as its unlawful activities are subsisting through various mediums, which are detrimental to the sovereignty, unity, integrity, security of India and causes disaffection against India.”
It further said, “The convincing and persuasive evidence placed on record, 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 November 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.”
Zakir Naik’s Islamist preachings and its violent consequences
The radical Islamist activities of Zakir Naik have been well documented. In 2016, terrorists involved in the Dhaka blast case had admitted that they were influenced by the preacher’s speeches. In 2019, Zakir was banned from giving speeches in Malaysia after he made racist comments against Hindus and Chinese Malaysians. He was interrogated for hours in connection to the same. Zakir Naik is wanted in India in cases involving money laundering. The government of India had taken his channel, Peace TV, off the air for peddling hate propaganda.