Controversial preacher Zakir Naik met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday, a day after Kuala Lumpur refused India's request to deport Naik, several media reports said.
Malaysian news portal, Free Malaysia Today, published images of Naik and Mohamad's unscheduled meeting while citing a source. “I can confirm that Naik went to see Tun (Mahathir) this morning,” a source told the news portal.
It wasn't clear as to what was discussed in the brief meeting, however, the timing has raised several questions, especially on India-Malaysia diplomatic relations. The two countries have an extradition treaty.
According to the Press Trust of India, in January, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik, who is wanted by India for allegedly inciting youngsters for terror activities through his hate speeches.
"At this stage, our request is under active consideration of the Malaysian side. Our High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is in regular touch with the relevant Malaysian authorities in this regard," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press briefing.
However, Malayasia refused India's request. In a recent news conference, the Malaysian prime minister had said that as long as Naik is not creating any problem, Malaysia will not deport him. "He has been given permanent residency status," Mohamad had said.
Naik, 52, recently said that he has no plans to return to India until he felt "safe from unfair prosecution".
Naik’s name first came up after one of the accused of the Gulshan attack in Bangladesh in 2016, said that he was inspired by Naik's preaching about Islam.
The 52-year-old preacher left India in 2016 to evade arrest. He had been living in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia since then.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had first registered a case against Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups. It also reported that the NIA and the Mumbai Police had also carried out searches at 10 places in Mumbai including residential premises of some of the office bearers of the foundation run by Naik.
Hossain Toufique Imam, political advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged to cooperate with India and share information regarding Naik.
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Updated Date: Jul 08, 2018 12:22:16 IST