Contrary to Malaysian government's repeated assertions in the past that radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will not be given any preferential treatment, the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday himself announced that Naik will not be extradited to India.
"As long as he is not creating any problem here in Malaysia, we will not deport him. Naik has a permanent residency status," Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at a news conference at Putrajaya near Kuala Lumpur.
Zakir Naik, the radical television preacher, is alleged to have been responsible for his hate speech instigating youngsters in Bangladesh for now infamous Dhaka siege of July 2016.
On Thursday, MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said that India's request for Naik's extradition under consideration of the Malaysian government. According to sources, Mr Naik's sermons on his channel , Peace TV, were cited as a major catalyst for deadly terror attack in July 2016 in Dhaka that left 22 people dead.
On the night of 1 July 2016, five militants had stormed into the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka after the assailants entered the bakery with crude bombs, pistols and took number of foreigners and locals as hostages.
Media reports on Wednesday quoted senior Malaysian police of saying that they had no knowledge of Zakir Naik's immediate extradition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a warm meeting with newly elected Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad on May 31 and thus it was presumed that Zakir Naik could be brought back to India.
In a media statement on Wednesday, Zakir Naik said the news of his 'coming' to India was "totally baseless and false". He had said: "The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I
don't feel safe from unfair prosecution. Insha Allah when I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland."
In Kuala Lumpur, its Home Ministry had earlier dismissed allegations that the Malaysian government has given any special treatment to Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.
Sources in Malaysian government, according to reports, have said that National Registration Department (NRD) of Malaysian Home ministry had approved Zakir's 'permanent residency' based on proper procedures set by the Immigration Department.
But now that Malaysian Prime Minister himself on Friday ruled out Naik's immediate extradition, the development is largely as a temporary set back to Indian authorities.
Zakir Naik is facing probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate. However, sources in the Indian government maintain the Malaysian PM's statement is not quite
surprising as whether one is a Malaysian or non-Malaysian, he or she is "subject" to the laws in that country. In other words, government sources said, "if someone violated the law, no matter who he is, action can be taken in accordance with the law in Malaysia".
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir told TV journalists: "May be not now, but we will get hold of him eventually and bring him to justice".
Indian government has informed Malaysian authorities that Naik is spreading 'disharmony' through Peace TV and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).The Enforcement Directorate is probing allegations of money laundering against the NGO; the MEA too has revoked Zakir Naik's passport with effect from July 17, 2017.