India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar has strongly rebutted the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s claim on Tuesday saying that India has been “persistently and relentlessly” pursuing the extradition of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
The Malaysian Prime Minister had stoked a controversy on Monday by claiming that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not request him to hand over Radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is facing an arrest in India for money laundering and terror-related charges.
Reportedly, the Malaysian prime minister added that his Indian counterpart whom he met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in Russia earlier this month, made no extradition request for the radical Islamic preacher despite official notice from New Delhi.
Speaking to local media, Mahathir Mohamad said, “Not many countries want him (Zakir Naik). I met Prime Minister Modi, he didn’t ask me for him.”
However, Indian foreign minister, S Jaishankar while speaking to reporters at a media interaction made a strong rebuttal by saying: “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.” This media interaction was organised to outline the foreign ministry’s achievements and key focus areas in the first 100 days of the government.
Jaishankar also confirmed that the expectation that the controversial Islamic preacher should be extradited to India was communicated at the meeting of the two prime ministers earlier this month.
Mahathir Mohamad’s statement comes nearly a fortnight after Prime Minister Modi met his Malaysian counterpart in Russia at the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum meet. Media reports at that time had quoted foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and stated that the issue of Naik was discussed between the two leaders.
Radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has also been causing trouble in Malaysia, a country where he was granted permanent resident status. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad mentioned that he was given the status by the previous government and now, due to his racially hateful speeches and statements, Malaysian authorities have imposed a nationwide ban on Zakir Naik stopping him from speaking in public.
It is notable here that many Malaysian states have also barred Naik from entering their jurisdiction.