India continues to pursue extradition request of Zakir Naik with Malaysia: MEA

Zakir Naik, MEA, Malaysia, India, Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, extradition, The Federal, English news website
Zakir Naik. Photo/PTI.

India continues to pursue its request for the extradition of Zakir Naik and it has been informed by the Malaysian government that its appeal is under consultation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday (July 11).

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India is pursuing the matter not only through the Malaysian government but also through its High Commission. “We have requested for his extradition again not only through our consultation with the Malaysian government but also through our High Commission. We have asked them to expedite the process. We have been told that it is under consultation and it is a process that will take time,” he said in response to a question.

Naik, a 53-year-old radical television preacher, left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to Malaysia, which has reportedly granted permanent residency to him. Asserting that Malaysia has a right to not extradite Naik, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper on Monday that “Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India).”

The Malaysian leader also compared the situation to Australia refusing to extradite former police commando Sirul Azhar Umar, who was sentenced to death in Malaysia in 2015 for killing a Mongolian model. Naik was booked by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2016 based on a National Investigation Agency FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The ED last month said that Naik received funds worth crores of rupees in his and his trust’s bank accounts from unidentified “well wishers” over the years for his speeches that spread “hatred and incited Muslim youths” to take up terrorism. While answering a question on his decision on the judgement of retired Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, Kumar said that a representative from the MEA will be there when the verdict is announced.

“We have to wait for judgement… a representative from MEA will be there when the verdict is announced,” he said, adding India had submitted a statement on September 13, 2017 with details about its arguments on the entire process. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to pronounce its verdict on July 17 in the case relating to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on a death row in Pakistan, official sources said on Thursday.

Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the ICJ in May 2017 against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav.

India had also challenged the “farcical” trial by the military court of Pakistan against the 48-year-old. The ICJ had on May 18, 2017 restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till the adjudication of the case.