NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday said it would continue to pursue with Malaysia its request for extradition of Zakir Naik, two days after the Malaysian Prime Minister had said that his country has the right to not extradite Naik as the fugitive evangelist claims he will not get a fair trial back home.
Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar also asserted that the fairness of the Indian justice system has never been in question.
“India has extradition arrangements with many nations. In the past, there are numerous cases of successful extradition to India. The fairness of the Indian justice system has never been in question,” Kumar said.
“India has made a formal request for the extradition of Zakir Naik. We would continue to pursue the matter with Malaysia,” he added, in response to queries on the status of Naik’s extradition from Malaysia.
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 Naik received funds worth crores in his and his trusts’ bank accounts from unidentified “well-wishers” over the years for his speeches that spread “hatred and incited Muslim youths” to take up terrorism.