The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said India was “persistently and relentlessly” seeking the extradition of Islamist preacher Zakir Naik. Union minister S Jaishankar refuted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that Narendra Modi had not sought Naik’s extradition.
“Not many countries want him [Zakir Naik],” Mohamad told Malaysian radio station BFM’s show, The Breakfast Grille, earlier in the day. “I met Prime Minister Modi, he didn’t ask me for him. This man could also be troublesome for India. We are trying to find a place where he can go but no one wants to accept him.”
Jaishankar, who addressed reporters at a press conference to highlight the ministry’s achievements in the first 100 days of the Modi government’s second tenure, said Malaysia had been sent an extradition request for Naik, and emphasised that India wanted him back.
Modi and Mohamad had met earlier this month in the Russian city of Vladivostok at the fifth Eastern Economic Forum. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had then said the two leaders had discussed Naik’s extradition.
In Tuesday’s interview, Mohamad claimed the previous Malaysian government had given Naik permanent citizenship. However, he would not be allowed to make public speeches anymore, the prime minister added.
Last month, the preacher was banned from delivering public speeches after he said the Chinese should leave the country first as they were “old guests”. He also said Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” than Muslims in India, and claimed Hindus were more loyal to Modi than the Malaysian prime minister.
Naik later apologised for the remarks, saying it was not his “intention to upset any individual or community”. The preacher, who has been residing in Malaysia for the last three years, is accused of provoking communal disharmony and committing offences in India.
Both the Indian and Bangladeshi government have been on the lookout for Naik since allegations surfaced that he inspired one of the terrorists involved in an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. The same year, his Islamic Research Foundation was banned in India.
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