Mumbai: Terming the five-year ban on Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an attack on “muslims, peace, democracy and justice," controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Friday said the ban was timed with the “demonetisation fiasco" to avert resistance and divert media attention.
The central government has recently banned the IRF and declared it as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for five years.
In an open letter, Naik, 51, who is abroad, said he will pursue all legal options to get the ban repealed and that the judiciary will fail the Modi government in its ‘plans’. Naik has been booked along with unnamed IRF officials under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) beside various sections of the UAPA.
“Before investigations were done, even before reports submitted, the ban was already decided. IRF was to be banned. Whether it was owing to my religion or some other reason, does not matter. What now matters is that my work of 25 years—completely lawful work—has been banned. And that is the most unfortunate thing for this country," Naik said in his letter. “From the government’s point of view, the timing itself could not have been better. The decision to ban IRF was taken in the middle of the demonetisation fiasco, as the country reeled under the self-imposed cash crunch. I won’t be surprised if this ban was meant to distract media from what was going on in the country. For the public that is starved for cash, for trade and basic amenities, one cannot expect much of resistance," he stated.
Talking about UAPA, Naik said, “The law does not seem to apply to the likes of Rajeshwar Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi who continue to make inflammatory speeches aimed at inciting communal hatred for mere political mileage." “Leave aside legal action, the government has neither condemned their actions nor reprimanded them. Is this draconian law mainly meant for the muslims? Does the UAPA now exist mainly to silence minority groups?" Naik asked.
“Let us not be gullible to think this was just an attack on me. It is an attack on whom I represent, the Indian muslims. It is an attack on peace, democracy and justice. I will pursue all legal options to repeal this ban," the IRF founder said.