A case has been registered by Mumbai police against an employee of controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation and three others, including two arrested earlier by Kerala police in connection with alleged Islamic State recruitment, a senior official said Tuesday.
Based on a complaint lodged by father of Ashfaque, one of the 21 youths from Kerala reported missing and suspected to have joined IS, a case was registered on Monday against IRF employee Arshid Qureshi, Rizwan Khan and two others at Nagpada police station, the official said.
They have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), he said.
Qureshi and Khan were earlier arrested by Kerala police.
In a joint operation by Kerala Police and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, Qureshi was nabbed from Navi Mumbai on July 21 for allegedly radicalising youths.
The Kerala police traced Qureshi to Mumbai following a complaint lodged in Kochi by the brother of a young woman, suspected to have joined the IS along with her husband and left the state.
Ebin Jacob, 25, brother of Merin alias Mariam who is missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent alias Yahia from Kerala, had told Palarivattom police in Kochi that there was an attempt to forcibly convert him to Islam and make him join the IS, and that Bestin and Qureshi were behind it.
In a similar operation, Khan, also allegedly instrumental in recruiting youths to the IS, was apprehended from his residence at Kalyan in neighbouring Thane district on July 22.
At least 21 youths from Kerala were reported missing and suspected to have joined the IS. Qureshi had been taken to Kerala after a Mumbai court granted his transit remand.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued against the backdrop of the report on the preacher submitted by Mumbai police to state Home department, the IRF said that all allegations leveled against Naik were ‘false and baseless’.
‘(The) IRF is not privy to the police commissioner’s report, but from reports put across in the media, (the) IRF wants to reiterate that the allegations are false and baseless. Dr Zakir Naik firmly believes in promoting peace and harmony and has been doing that for decades,’ it said.
The foundation said that neither Naik nor the IRF have received any notice from the MHA or any government agency as of now, and hence they won't be able to comment on it.
‘(The) IRF is a research body that promotes greater awareness of Islam and its tenets. Dr Zakir Naik is an expert in comparative religion and has been conducting well-researched talks on Islam and other religions across the world,’ it said.
Naik emphasises on teachings of Islam which is ‘not unconstitutional’ and preaching and propagating one’s religion is allowed by Article 25 of the Constitution, it said.
The IRF also said that conversion (of religion) has never been its objective.
‘Conversion is not the objective of (the) IRF. The organisation only spreads the message of Islam and clears misconceptions. This is fully permitted by our Constitution,’ it said.
The statement also said IRF’s Guest Relations Manager Arshid Qureshi never forced anyone to convert religion.
‘Qureshi has never forced a single person into conversion against his or her free will, as it is against Islam. We emphatically deny all allegations,’ it said.