New Delhi has rebutted Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s assertion that India did not insist on the return on Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
According to the Hindustan Times, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (above) was quoted saying that India has instead been “persistently and relentlessly” pursuing the fugitive.
The controversial preacher is wanted back in his native India to answer to several criminal charges concerning money laundering, terrorism and inciting hate speech. Zakir has denied any wrongdoing.
He currently lives in Malaysia, where he enjoys permanent resident status granted by the BN-led government.
“Let me make it very clear for the record.
“There is an extradition request (sent in January 2018). We want Zakir Naik back and that is what we are working on,” Jaishankar was quoted telling reporters there yesterday.
He also reportedly insisted India’s expectation of Zakir being extradited was communicated at the meeting between the two prime ministers in Russia earlier this month.
The meeting between the two leaders took place in Vladivostok, ahead of the three-day Eastern Economic Summit.
Jaishankar was referring to comments made by Mahathir during an interview with business radio station BFM yesterday.
During the interview, the premier insisted that no other country was willing to accept Zakir. He added that India also had not insisted on the preacher’s return.
"I met (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and he didn't (tell) me that he wants this man back. This man could also be troublesome for India," Mahathir had said.
Mahathir had previously also stated that Modi had merely mentioned Zakir during the Russian meet but “didn't ask for anything”.
However, it has been reported that India had filed an extradition request with Malaysia in January, last year, and made repeated attempts to get Interpol to issue a red notice against Zakir but has been unsuccessful.
An Interpol red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.