A preliminary probe into the foreign funding of the NGO run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik has found most of it came from the UK, Saudi Arabia and some Mideast countries and it allegedly received about Rs 15 crore during a five-year period preceding 2012.
As the probe by Union Home Ministry amid allegations that the funds were used by Islamic Research Foundation for political activities and inspiring people towards radical views was underway, some Muslim academics and religious scholars on Tuesday asked it to "tread cautiously" on any action against Naik.
Separately, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) condemned what it called the "media trial" of Naik.
The televangelist, whose speeches allegedly inspired some of the Dhaka attackers, is currently facing multiple probes.
A senior Home Ministry official said in New Delhi that an investigation was underway on IRF, which was registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and it was found that most of his foreign funds came from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and a few other Middle East countries.
IRF has allegedly received about Rs 15 crore for a period of five years, preceding 2012, the official said.
The Home Ministry probe covers the allegations that foreign funding to IRF was used for political activities and that the NGO's funds were used to induce people towards Islam and "attracting" youths towards terror, the official said.
All such activities are contrary to the FCRA provisions and any violation invites punitive action.
IRF's source of foreign funding are being examined thoroughly by the Home Ministry, the official said, adding its accounts are being checked to find for what purpose the funds were sent from abroad and for what purpose the funds were utilised.
"While all sections of the society have to take a united stand against anything which remotely promotes extremism, the ongoing attempts to single out Zakir Naik even before any investigation has been conducted doesn’t bode well", Spokesperson of Nadwatul Uloom, Lucknow Maulana Syed Hamza Nadwi said in Aligarh.
"We differ with them on some matters, but we are yet to find evidence of any hate content in their teachings," he said.
General Secretary of the Paghamey Insaniyat Committee Maulana Syed Bilal Hasni said that any attempt to "single" out Naik without proper investigation is not "correct" and government should "tread cautiously" on the issue.
AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad Imtiaz Jaleel, in a statement, said that his party respects and follows the rule of the land and feels nobody could be pronounced guilty unless the court gives its judgement by following the due process of law.