India has refuted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that no country wants to accept controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar noted that the Indian government has been “persistently and relentlessly” pursuing the extradition of the controversial preacher.
He also rebutted Mahathir’s claim that the issue of Zakir’s extradition was not brought up in a meeting between the former and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Russia earlier this month.
“… the Indian expectation (for Zakir to be extradited) was communicated and it was decided that officials concerned should meet.
“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,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Jaishankar’s statement came just hours after Mahathir said in an interview with local radio station BFM that Modi had not made any request for Zakir to be extradited when the two leaders met on Sept 5.
Mahathir had suggested that this might be due to worries that the controversial figure might cause too much trouble for India.
He had previously also stated that Modi had merely mentioned Zakir during the Russian meet but “didn’t ask for anything”.
In the interview, the premier also claimed that Malaysia was forced to hold on to Zakir because no countries were willing to take him in.
“We are trying to find a place where he can go but no one wants to accept him,” he had said when asked why the government continues to allow Zakir in the country if he was causing so much trouble.
The Mumbai-born Zakir is wanted at home for allegedly inciting terrorism, hate speech and money-laundering
Zakir caused controversy last month when he insulted the Chinese community in Malaysia and had also questioned the loyalty of the Hindus here during his speech in Kelantan.
Over 100 police reports have been made against Malaysian permanent resident since, with the authorities later issuing a gag order to prohibit him from speaking in public and social media.