The Government of India on Wednesday made a formal request to the Malaysian government to extradite Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The Ministry added that they will continue to pursue the extradition matter with the southeast Asian country.
Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of MEA, said, “India has made a formal request for the extradition of Zakir Naik. We would continue to pursue the matter with Malaysia.”
“India has extradition arrangements with many nations. In the past, there are numerous cases of successful extradition to India. The fairness of the Indian justice system has never been in question,” he added.
The Ministry’s statement comes two days after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the country has the right to not extradite Naik. “Zakir, in general, feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” PM Mohamad was quoted as saying by The Star, a leading English daily in Malaysia.
Naik is facing a probe in India by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after his sermons on his Peace TV were cited as a reason by Bangladesh for an attack in Dhaka in 2016, which claimed 22 lives. However, Naik reportedly left Indian in 2016 and subsequently moved to Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.
This is not the first time that India is persuading the southeast Asian country to extradite the Islamic preacher.
Despite a formal request last year and continuous pursuance through diplomatic channels, Malaysian authorities refused to send Zakir back. “As long as he is not creating any problem, we will not deport him because he has been given permanent residency status,” PM Mohamad had said last year.
Naik’s NGO – Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) – was also declared unlawful in 2016 and is being probed by the ED over allegations of money laundering to the tune of more than Rs 18 crore.
Meanwhile, Naik, last month in an interview to ‘The Week’ magazine, said that he was ready to return to India if the Supreme Court gives an assurance that he would not be arrested till his conviction. He added that he had faith in India’s judicial system but it was better before than it is now.
“Before the BJP government came, you could speak against the government, and at least 80 per cent of the times you would get justice. Today, the chances are 10-20 per cent,” Naik told the magazine.
“Moreover, if we see the history, more than 90 per cent Muslims who faced terror charges have been let free after 10-15 years. So if I look at an average, I will be behind bars for about 10 years, and my entire mission would get disrupted. Why should I be a fool?” he added.