Mumbai, (The Hindu): A day after a section of the media reported that a school run by controversial preacher Dr. Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) had been declared unauthorised by BMC Education Inspector (south Mumbai) B.B. Chavan, the officer has rendered himself incommunicado.
The office of State Education Minister Vinod Tawde said their efforts to contact Mr. Chavan to know how the Islamic International School (IIS) in Mazgaon is in violation of rules came to naught on Thursday. Confirming the circular declaring the school as illegal had been issued by Mr. Chavan, an official in the minister’s office said, “We have been trying to reach Mr. Chavan ourself, but his phone is switched off.”
In a letter issued on Wednesday, Mr. Chavan said no school can be run without an no-objection certificate (NOC) from the civic body, as defined in the Right to Education Act, 2009. The letter also said parents should not enrol their children in IIS. However, it did not say if the school has been given the mandatory NOC by the BMC.
Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi, who recently took over the school, alleged there was a conspiracy to harass the institution’s management. The school, which has around 135 students and offers secondary education till Class X, was taken over by Mr. Azmi’s Niyaz Minority Education and Welfare Trust.
“The school is being run on the same lines (as earlier) with only some changes, including in its name and management. I have taken the premises on rent and have done nothing to invite the fury of the Education Department,” Mr. Azmi, who represents the Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar Assembly constituency, said.
He added, “I wouldn’t want any controversy. Neither the Education Department nor me would want to jeopardise students’ futures. I have asked our team to get in touch with the [BMC] education officers and obtain all required permissions.”
In December last year, the State government had informed parents of students at IIS that the school would either be shut or brought under a new management. Mr. Azmi had requested State Education Minister Vinod Tawde to not close down the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)-run school in the interest of its students.
In November 2016, the Union Home Ministry had banned the IRF for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for its alleged involvement in terrorist activities. Besides the IRF, Mr. Naik is also founding trustee of the IRF Educational Trust and the Islamic Dimensions Trust.
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