PETALING JAYA: The Indian government will soon make a formal extradition request to Putrajaya for hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to return to face charges of money laundering, incitement of terror activities and radicalising youth.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the government is currently finalising the internal legal process as required for any extradition request, the Times of India reported.
“We are nearing the completion of this exercise. Once this exercise is completed, we will make an official request to the Malaysian government on this matter,” MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar was quoted as saying at a press briefing yesterday.
On Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was reported to have said that it is doing all it can to ensure Naik is brought back to India, having previously also written to Interpol to issue a red notice for his arrest.
“We will explore all legal options which are available to us to bring Naik back so that he faces trial before the court,” NIA inspector-general Alok Mittal was quoted as saying by Asian News International (ANI), a New Delhi-based news portal.
The NIA has charged Naik and his Mumbai-based non-profit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) with indulging in unlawful activities and promoting religious hatred. The government had previously banned IRF and also revoked his Indian passport.
Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported to have said that the Indian government had never sought any help from the Malaysian government over the controversial preacher.
In April this year, Zahid, who is also home minister, had also confirmed that Naik was given permanent resident status in Malaysia five years ago under the tenure of the previous home minister, Hishammuddin Hussein.
Media reports from India had previously claimed that the preacher was also accorded citizenship status by the Saudi government, although this has not been confirmed by Riyadh.
In May, the NIA was reported to have written to Interpol asking that a red-corner notice be issued against him. This would mean that he would be officially declared an international fugitive and police in any country would be authorised to arrest him.
Naik fled India in 2016, after a suspect in a terror attack on a Dhaka cafe, in Bangladesh, said he had been influenced by Naik’s speeches, and Bangladesh banned his Peace TV channel.
The Times of India, quoting sources, had reported that Naik had written to Interpol to say that the Indian agencies were unfairly targeting him because he was a Muslim.