KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — India’s foreign minister has insisted that Narendra Modi did broach the topic of Dr Zakir Naik’s extradition with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after the latter said otherwise this week.
S. Jaishankar, who was present along with other Indian officials when the two prime ministers met in Vladivostok, Russia earlier this month, told his country’s media that the thorny topic was definitely discussed.
“Dr Zakir’s extradition issue had indeed come up during Modi’s meeting with Mahathir in Vladivostok. India had placed a request with Malaysia for Naik’s extradition in January,” The Times of India quoted Jaishankar as saying in a press conference.
“Let me make it very clear for the record. There was an extradition request in January 2018. We want Dr Zakir back and this is what we are working on,” India’s The Economics Times also reported Jaishankar as saying.
Dr Mahathir has publicly stated that Modi did not bring up India’s extradition request for Dr Zakir who is wanted there to face charges of money laundering and hate speech.
He also said in an interview this week that India has not “insisted” that Malaysia execute its request.
Yesterday, Indian authorities issued yet another warrant for Dr Zakir’s arrest, with the latest also for money laundering.
Dr Zakir has been wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.
India has stripped the controversial preacher of his passport and he has been harbouring in Malaysia where he is a permanent resident.
Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said Malaysia would not extradite Dr Zakir to India over fears that he would not receive a fair trial and possibly killed.
The India-born preacher’s presence in Malaysia has caused fissures in Dr Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan, with some of his ministers urging the PM to send Dr Zakir back to India after he made remarks denigrating Malaysian minorities.
He was banned last month by Malaysian authorities from speaking publicly after he was investigated over his remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Chinese.