Days after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made it clear that radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will not be deported to India, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday claimed that the formal extradition request is still "under consideration of the Malaysian authorities".
"...At this stage I can share with you that our extra request is under consideration of the Malaysian authorities," MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters at the weekly media briefing.
Asked whether India could have registered a protest with Malaysian authorities and what other options New Delhi has on the issue, the MEA spokesman said: "There are options....but this is not the forum to talk about the options we have".
Kumar said in January this year the Government of India made a formal request for the extradition of Zakir Naik, who is an Indian national and is living in Malaysia and "who is wanted in criminal cases in India".
To questions on media reports that Zakir Naik would be also given land and permission to launch his Peace TV in Malaysia, the spokesman skirted a direct reply and said these reports could not be confirmed.
According to sources, 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.
Indian government had 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.(UNI)