‘UPSC Jihad’: Zakat Foundation files plea in SC, says Sudarshan TV has deep seated malaise against Muslims
Zakat Foundation of India has been funding and providing coaching for not just for needy Muslim candidates, but for candidates from all faiths for eleven years, the plea pointed out
Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI), which is at the centre of controversy in the Supreme Court case against Sudarshan News program on 'UPSC Jihad', has sought to intervene in the petition stating that the channel has been "cherry-picking facts from publicly accessible documents on the internet and drawing unsustainable inference therefrom."
The intervention application (IA) clarifies the concept of Jihad, rebuts "unfounded allegations" by Sudarshan TV and highlights the "hateful antecedents of Sudarshan TV", legal news website BarandBench.com has reported.
ZFI has stated that Sudarshan News has to provide strict proof for all claims made against the NGO.
Stating that the channel has put the cart before the horse and presumed that the donors to ZFI are somehow linked to terrorist activities, the organisation has claimed that it has revealed nothing but a deep seated malaise against Muslims.
Firstly, ZFI has mentioned that the promo aired for the show by the channel on August 28 did not name ZFI at all.
“The promo, rather, provoked the people by saying ‘just think if the Jihadis of Jamia become the Collector of your district or Secretary in ministries then what will happen”. It is pertinent to state that the VC of Jamia Milia Islamia has stated that out of 30 students of Jamia selected by UPSC this year, there are 14 Hindus and 16 Muslims,” the IA reads.
Pointing towards at the diversity of candidates, the IA states that using Zakat, the compulsory alms given by Muslims every year, ZFI has been funding and providing coaching for not just for needy Muslim candidates, but for candidates from all faiths for eleven years.
"Of the 27 who cleared the selection procedure this year finally, 4 belonged to other faiths. In the previous years too, several candidates from different faiths have qualified and benefitted by the Zakat Foundation," states the IA.
The IA states that the channel had selectively relying on results thrown up by Googling various names and thereby relied on an article by Sam Westrop about whom it is well known that he has written many Islamophobic articles, the IA says.
Regarding the effort made by Sudarshan News to elicit a comment from ZFI, the organizers calling it a "half hearted contact" stated that on August 26 after the channel reached out for an interview, questions were sought on email to which there was no response.
Secondly, the IA states that it was only next on September 12 that the channel invited comments for a show at 8 pm by an email sent the same evening at 6 pm.
ZFI has stated on record that it had received Rs 29,95,02,038 (Rs twenty nine crore, ninety-five lakhs, two thousand thirty-eight) till date as donations, out of which Rs 1,47,76,279 (One crore, forty-seven lakhs, seventy six thousand two hundred seventy nine) has been received from the four sources located abroad which have been referred to by the channel.
“Total sum of the donations ever received by ZFI from the four sources which are alleged by Sudarshan News as of doubtful integrity constitutes 4.93 percent of the total charity amount ever received by the Applicant Organization from all sources,” the IA states.
Further countering the source of funds, the intervenor states that Madina Trust is a minuscule donor charity registered in Britain.
"Its chair is 88-year-old retired gentleman Sri Zia ul Hasan who belongs to Ambala and had shifted to where he worked as Accountant. His wife belongs to Saharanpur. They keep helping the poor and needy in India and have said that his charity never participated in any political activity nor has intention ever to do so," reads the IA.
The channel had stated that as per records of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, Dr. Zahid Ali Parvez, Trustee of Madina Trust, is also a trustee with the Islamic Foundation. The Times, UK had reported that two Islamic Foundation trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with banned terror organizations, Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Next, regarding Muslim Aid (UK), the IA contends that UK would have itself banned the organization by now if it had such prominent terror links.
Regarding Zakir Naik, IA states that ZFI International (ZFII) is a different, much smaller, charitable company registered under British laws.
"There are two British directors of Indian origin who are well placed and live in UK. One of them, Dr Jafer Quraishi (75), is a psychiatrist who belongs to Hyderabad and lives in Birmingham. Between 2012 and 2016 he was individually associated with a couple of British companies of Zakir Naik but resigned from there after he came to know that the Govt of India had censured the man," reads the IA.
ZFI has submitted that it has never received from the government any advisory or even a word of caution in respect of any of these four or any other donors even though the required information has always been submitted to it meticulous every year.
Since Sudarshan News had claimed that ZFI had shown a dubious flag in one of its presentations without making it look like Indian flag, the application now states that "the flag depicted has no connection with the Indian flag ex facie, because the flag which has been referred belongs to the initiative ‘Watn ki fikr’ -- which is one of the signature projects linked with the Foundation and whose convenor is the President of the Zakat Foundation."
ZFI has stated that Zakah is a "specific amount due in the property of the Muslims, which is to be distributed to the deserving. In the legal sense it means “a right on wealth” or the specified part of the wealth designated by Allah to be given to certain defined beneficiaries."
Regarding its UPSC program, ZFI states that it selects, accommodates and coaches a limited number of 'ZFI Fellows,' i.e. academically meritorious candidates with a serious interest in appearing for the highly competitive Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission of India (UPSC).
Further the IA mentions that digital news platform “Alt News”, known for ‘fact check’ has compiled a list of incidents when Sudarshan news "has blatantly attempted to create communal divide within the country. The link can be accessed at - Sudarshan News and its history of dangerous, communally-divisive misinformation, October 2019."
“The news channel has been acting against a particular community. A job advertisement was aired by the channel but with a condition that Muslims cannot apply there. Such actions clearly reflect the amount of hatred which the channel holds and the radical thinking which is a threat for the social wellbeing of the country,” reads the IA.
The IA also mentions that Sudarshan TV channel editor Suresh Chavhanke, was arrested in 2017, in the month of April at Lucknow airport for hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity between religious groups.