Naik’s licence: Senior IAS officers lobby for suspended colleague

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) A number of senior IAS officials, including joint secretaries, on Tuesday called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh regarding the suspension of a colleague G.K. Dwivedi over the renewal of FCRA licence of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO.

Sources said the officials told the minister that such action against a senior officer, who was handling several key projects of the Modi government, would have a “demoralising” effect on the bureaucracy.

Four Home Ministry officials were suspended on September 1 for their alleged “lapses” in renewing the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulations Act) licence of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) run by Naik.

Rajnath was said to be displeased after the mandatory FCRA licence of IRF was renewed by the Foreigners Cell of the Home Ministry.

“During the day, Dwivedi separately met the Home Minister and presented his case. Our meeting with Rajnath Singh was cordial. He gave a patient hearing and assured that the matter raised by us will be looked into,” a source later said.

Ministry sources said the online route for the issuance of licences was utilised by the NGO on August 19 even as a probe was on against Naik.

Naik’s Peace TV and his speeches have come under the scanner of the central security agencies for allegedly propagating radical views, especially in the aftermath of the July 1 Dhaka terror siege that left 22 people dead.

According to security agencies, Zakir Naik through the Peace TV had reportedly promoted radical Islamist views.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the officers maintained that Dwivedi, who was serving as Joint Secretary (Foreigners Cell) in the Home Ministry, should not be punished for the alleged lapses of his juniors.

Last week, a few officials met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and registered their protest against the suspension of Dwivedi.

Sources said suspended IAS officer Dwivedi has been working on a number of pet projects of the Narendra Modi government, offering long-term visas and citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

He also worked on the merger of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card scheme with the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card scheme.

In July, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Information cancelled the downlink permission to Naik’s Peace TV.

The controversial Islamic orator is also banned in Malaysia, Britain and Canada.

Earlier in the day, former Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai backed four Home Ministry officials suspended over the FCRA licence to Naik’s NGO.

“I don’t know the details of the case but the suspension is not called for. Such actions generally demoralise people,” Pillai told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on border security here.

He said if such actions are taken, the bureaucracy will stop taking any decisions.

Pillai admitted that Naik’s is a high-profile case but went onto add: “From my experience, I can state that the Home Secretary should be in a position to defend his officials in such cases.”



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