Refuting India's earlier claims, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not ask for the extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
"Not many countries want him. I met Prime Minister Modi, he didn't ask me for him. This man could also be troublesome for India," Mohamad told reporters.
He added that Malaysia is still looking for a place to send Naik, after he recently made racially sensitive remarks. "Zakir Naik isn't a national of this country, he was given permanent status by previous govt. Permanent resident isn't supposed to make comments on country's system or politics, he breached that, so now he isn't allowed to speak," said the Malaysian PM.
His statement comes days after a bilateral meeting with PM Modi on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had told reporters after the meeting that PM Modi raised the issue of Zakir Naik's extradition. "Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us," he had said.
Malaysia has granted asylum to Naik since 2016 when he fled from India after he was charged by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for promoting communal disharmony in the country. An investigation revealed that militants who carried out the Dhaka Terror Attack in July 2016 and the leader of Hyderabad's Islamic State's module confessed that they were influenced by Naik's sermons.
The Mumbai-born 53-year-old founder of the controversial 'Peace TV' has been living in Malaysia since 2017. His activities are under constant monitoring of the Malaysian authorities after he made racially sensitive remarks in the multi-ethnic nation. The Malaysian Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that no one is above the country's law, "much less a permanent resident" even if he is Zakir Naik.
Naik is also facing a government inquiry set up by the Malaysian PM who had initially denied India's extradition requests citing Naik's statement that he would not be accorded justice in India.
Gokhale had said the issue of terrorism also discussed between Modi and Mohamad. He said the Malaysian Prime Minister unequivocally condemned terrorism in all forms and stated that his country was against the menace.
The two leaders discussed ways to "cope" with the growing menace of terrorism, the Foreign Secretary said.