The Indian government will soon make a formal request asking Malaysia to extradite Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher and founder of the Islamic Research Foundation, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday. “Maybe in the next couple of weeks, it will be clear what the nature of the request will be,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
The ministry’s statement comes a day after reports claimed that Naik was given permanent residency in Malaysia, and embraced by top government officials there. Last month, Naik made a rare public appearance at Malaysia’s Putra Mosque.
Naik has been under investigation after the Centre banned his Islamic Research Foundation on November 15, 2016, for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Agencies have been monitoring Naik ever since allegations that he inspired one of the militants behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016.
On October 26, the National Investigation Agency booked Naik for inciting the youth to take up terror activities and for hate speech. The agency said its investigation showed Naik, “through his public speeches and lectures, has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India”. The NIA said his speeches led to communal tension among followers of different sects and created serious law-and-order situations.
On April 13, a special court in Mumbai had issued an open-dated, non-bailable warrant against the preacher in connection with a money laundering case. The Regional Passport Office in Mumbai had revoked Naik’s passport on the NIA’s recommendation on July 19.