Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi has taken over the city-based Islamic International School (IIS), run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik's banned Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
The controversy surrounding Naik had put a question mark over the fate of around 200 students studying in IIS. The school, which conducts classes from nursery to class X, was staring at a shutdown.
Now, it will be run by Azmi's Niyaz Minority Education and Welfare Trust and will be renamed Avicenna International School.
Confirming the development, Azmi said, "I was pained to see that the future of almost 200 children studying in this school was hanging in the balance. All of them belonged to good families and deserved proper protection. So I decided to take care of their future and take over the management of the school in Mazgaon. I have taken over the school by completing the procedural formalities."
"Now, the school will be run by a trust called Niyaz Minority, Education and Welfare Trust and it will be renamed as Avicenna International School, in memory of a well-known scientist," he said.
Azmi, who represents Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar assembly constituency in Mumbai, had set up the Niyaz welfare trust in memory of his father.
Last year, Azmi had requested the Maharashtra government not to close down the IRF-run school saying doing so will jeopardise the future of students enrolled there. Azmi had made the request to state Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
Azmi has decided to continue with the same school staff and not change the syllabus and timeline of the academic sessions.
"Owing to the controversy and the ban on IRF, some students have left the school and currently only 135 are left. But we are going to bounce back and hope to get the students back. We are not going to bring any major changes in the teaching staff and the curriculum. The school will function as it was doing earlier, except that we would be doing periodic appraisals of the teaching staff," the SP leader said.
In November last year, the IRF was banned by the Union Home Ministry for five years under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its alleged involvement in terror acts.
The Delhi High Court had recently upheld the decision to immediately ban IRF saying the organisation and its president and members were indulging in "unlawful activity."
Besides the IRF, Naik is also the founding trustee of the IRF Educational Trust and the Islamic Dimensions Trust. The speeches of Naik are banned in the UK, Canada and Malaysia.
Naik has rejected all allegations of involvement in terror-related activities and opposed the ban on the IRF.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)