New Delhi: The foreign funding licence of an NGO in Kerala, linked to Sunni Muslim leader Sheikh Abubakr Ahmad, has been suspended by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for violating provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), ThePrint has learnt.
The Kozhikode-based NGO, Markazul Ighasathil Kairiyathil Hindiyya, also known as the Relief and Charitable Foundation of India, allegedly violated key FCRA norms by not informing the central government about foreign contributions received or maintaining a proper account of them.
Founded in 2000, Markazul claims to work for upliftment of “backward sections at the grassroots level”. According to ministry sources, the NGO is linked to Abubakr Ahmad, who is known as ‘grand Mufti of India’ and is the Chancellor of the Jamia Markaz and General Secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama.
According to a home ministry official, the NGO has also been accused of inappropriate utilisation of the funds and non-submission of annual FCRA returns for 2019-20. The order for the suspension of the FCRA licence was issued on 27 August, the official said.
“It has received over Rs 100 crore as donation in the last three years and now it has been barred from receiving any more funding till the suspension order is in place. The NGO has clearly violated Section 12(4)(a)(vi), Section 18 and Section 19 of the FCRA and thus their licence to receive any more international money has been suspended,” the official said.
The official also cited a particular case where the NGO received Rs 50 lakh for the purchase of a piece of land, but the deal was later cancelled. However, instead of allocating the amount to the foreign contribution-designated bank account, the NGO retained it in its office.
The official also alleged that the records maintained by the NGO did not give a justification for the Rs 50 lakh that were unaccounted for.
ThePrint tried reaching Markazul for a comment through phone calls, but received no response till this report was published.
According to another home ministry official, the suspension of the NGO’s licence was part of a “routine” exercise.
“There are over 25,000 NGOs that are under FCRA and we hold regular scrutiny of all. Whenever we find any violations of the FCRA norms, an inquiry is conducted and the particular NGO is also asked to clarify their position. If we are not satisfied with their explanation, we suspend the licence to stop them from getting further funding,” the second official told ThePrint.
He added that an NGO can also get the suspension reviewed by the ministry. “It is an ongoing process and is routine. The NGO whose licence is suspended can also send their case for a review, which is done by MHA,” he said.
Besides Markazul, licences of seven other NGOs, including other Islamic charities, have been suspended due to FCRA violations in the last three months. The officials, however, refused to divulge the names of the NGOs.
(Edited by Rachel John)