India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday conducted raids on 10 offices of preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO, Indian media reported.
Raids were conducted at 10 locations in Maharashtra linked to his banned organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which is also named in the case by the anti-terror agency.
Times of India (TOI) reported that the NIA had registered a case against Naik and others on Friday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly “spreading enmity” among religions.
The searches began on Saturday morning with the help of local police after a case was registered by the NIA’s Mumbai branch on Friday night.
The Indian government banned IRF as an ‘unlawful organisation’ for five years with immediate effect, on Tuesday. The ban was enforced under UAPA and approved at a meeting of the Union cabinet.
TOI had earlier reported that the government intended to ban IRF citing Naik’s “objectionable and subversive” speeches, the criminal cases filed against him and other members of IRF in Mumbai and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra and Kerala, as well as his “dubious” links with Peace TV that allegedly features “communal” and “pro-jihad” content as grounds for such a ban.
An ‘unlawful’ association is different from a ‘terrorist’ organisation listed under UAPA. The law defines ‘unlawful association’ as any organisation “which has for its object any activity that is punishable under Section 153A or 153B of IPC” — provisions dealing with threat to social and communal harmony.
Declaration of IRF as ‘unlawful’ under Section 3 of the UAPA will force closure of its offices and interests across the country.