The latest to take on the government on the demonetisation is Dr Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher. Naik's NGO, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was banned for a period of 5 years by the Union Home Ministry.
Naik feels that the ban on his NGO may have been to distract the media from what was going on in the country post the decision to demonetise the Rs 500 and 1,000 notes.
He further goes on to state in a letter that the laws are not equal. While speaking about the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) under which his NGO was banned, he asks if the draconian law was limited only to Muslims.
Is UAPA meant to silence the minority community he asks while seeking to know why no action was taken against Rajeshwar Singh of the Dharm Jaagran Manch, Sadhvi Prachi and Yogi Adityanand.
Read the full letter here:
I was right after all. IRF and I were set up for a ban. Despite some saying that I played the 'Muslim card', it is now proven that the decision to ban IRF was taken months ago and it was a communal decision.
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. This must be the most unique ban to be applied in the history of India, because not a single time was I questioned or given a chance to explain.
Not a single chance. No notice, no summons, no calls and no contact ever made with me to get my side of the story. I kept offering my help in investigation but it wasn't taken. The entire investigation was completed without any agency asking me a single question about my so called 'wrongdoings'.
But then why would they? My participation in the investigation process would have cleared up the air and exonerated me, which wasn't acceptable to the government.
Now that they've banned me without asking me a single question, I have no choice left but to answer them only through the legal system and not personally. Their agenda is open and clear: implicate me by hook or by crook, which I will fight.
Timing of the ban
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 demonetization fiasco, as the country reeled under the selfimposed 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. Flawless timing really.
The ban notification alleges that I have incited violence through some of my statements. I would at this juncture like to re-emphasize that I have at all points only advocated peace and condemned violence in any form. In fact I am one of the few persons who ever publicly spoke against state sponsored violence and terrorism.
These facts have never been given their due after having been explained on several occasions. All the questions and allegations have been answered and explained a dozen times in the last few years. To people and to the media. Why? Because most have not bothered to look through the entire portion of the Q&A.
They've watched a smaller, doctored clip and based their opinions on it. Common people aside, I expected professional investigators from government agencies to do a thorough job.
Had they done so, this issue would have been a no brainer, a non-issue. But I guess, that was not the plan. The plan was to ban, not investigate. Which is perhaps why the draconian law of UAPA was exercised on very select organisations such as Islamic Research Foundation.
The name of the religion has been made synonymous with violence while condoning the reckless behavior of some majority leaders.
Law is not equal
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.
Rajeshwar Singh of Dharm Jaagran Manch recently made a televised statement that 31st December 2021 will be the last day for Islam and Christianity in India and that he and his associates have taken an oath to end Islam and Christianity from India before 31st December 2021.
Don't such statements and many more by fanatics like Sadhvi Prachi and Yogi Adityanath require them to be arrested and tried under UAPA? Leave aside legal action, the government has neither condemned their actions nor reprimanded them.
Is this draconian law mainly meant for Muslims? Muslims who've been practicing and propagating their religion peacefully and well within the constitutional framework?
Does the UAPA now exist mainly to silence minority groups? I urge my Muslim brothers and sisters in India to rely on Allah alone, unafraid of this vicious campaign against them. Allah says, 'And if you are patient and fear Allah, their plot will not harm you at all.' (Al-Qur'an 3:120)
Like the demonetization fiasco, the Modi government's IRF ban and its modus operandi has been distraught with senseless decisions and knee jerk actions. After having said that the Islamic International School will not be affected, the government goes ahead and freezes the School's bank account.
How will a school survive without its day-to-day expenses being met? We're talking about the future of hundreds of school children here. I know, and more than 100 million of my followers across the world know, that I've propagated peace and compassion and justice.
I'm very sure I haven't broken any law, and with this ban, I'm even surer that things have happened with a deeper, sinister agenda.
The system and agencies have been used to suit a pre-meditated result set by the government of India, a government that took an oath to uphold the Indian Constitution, the same Constitution that allows me the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate my religion.
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. By the grace of the Almighty, my work is now spread across the world and a ban in India, however agonizing, will not ruin everything.
I had mentioned in my first letter that God willing many Muslim countries will roll the red carpet for this humble servant of Allah. I have received from several Muslim countries a response better than what I had expected. I will continue my work and rebuild.
India is my home
But India is my home, my roots, and I will fight this ban come what may. God-willing, I will pursue all legal options to repeal this ban. Because Islam has taught me not to let an injustice go by. I will fight, be sure of that. To my fellow Indians, I have only one thing to say.
The country's democratic fabric is under attack. People's lives are being played with. Governments are misusing their authority on people they're supposed to protect. This needs to change. It needs to change for the future of every one of us.
I have faith in the judiciary and I still believe that truth will prevail and the Modi government will fail in its plans. But whatever the outcome, I strongly believe that the best efforts to quash my work will only help it rise higher and stronger.
Even though the Modi government is misusing the law to scare Indian Muslims, these actions, Godwilling, will make me strive harder to spread the message of the religion of peace till my last breath.
For Allah says, "Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." (Al-Qur'an 17:81) Beshak. Without doubt.
Sincerely yours Dr Zakir Naik Servant of Allah