A top police officer in Malaysia has told the country’s leading publication that there was no truth in Indian media reports of Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik being extradited to India tonight.
Speaking to Malaysia’s oldest news portal, The Star, Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun rejected Indian media reports that the controversial preacher will be handed over to Indian authorities on Wednesday night.
“It is not true. He will not be extradited to India tonight,” Harun was quoted by The Star on Wednesday.
This came after several Indian channels namely NDTV and Times Now confirmed that Naik was set to land in India on Wednesday night.
A report by NDTV had quoted an unnamed Malaysian source as saying, “He( Naik) is out of the country tonight. He will be taking a flight to India today I believe.” Times Now channel claimed it had first broken the news adding that the development was massive. The channel went on to add that Naik’s reported extradition was only possible because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trip to Malaysia. The channel implied that the real motive behind Modi’s recent trip to Malaysia was to secure Naik’s extradition.
However, news agency ANI quoted the NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal as saying, “We have no such information as of now. We are verifying it.” A spokesperson with the Ministry of Home Affairs too told The Hindu that they had ‘no communication from the Government of Malaysia on the issue of Zakir Naik’s return to India today.’
Naik, meanwhile issued a statement denying the reports of his return to India tonight. Calling the reports of his return to India ‘baseless,’ the statement from Naik said, “I have no plans to come to India till I don’t feel safe from unfair prosecution. When I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland.”
His lawyer, Mobin Solkar too denied the reports of his extradition. “This news is absolutely false and baseless as he (Zakir Naik) is not coming to India today. As far as the extradition process is concerned, it was earlier reported that the Indian Govt has initiated extradition proceedings but there has been no progress,” Solkar was quoted by ANI.
Indian agencies have been trying to convince Malaysia to extradite Naik, but they were told that the former had failed to produce a red corner notice – which acts like an international arrest warrant – against him.
In December last year, the Interpol had rejected India’s Red Corner Notice against Naik on the grounds that it lacked evidence and was a failure by Indian authorities to follow due process of law. It was political and religious bias that formed the basis of such a notice, and there was lack of any international interest.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), whose credentials have come under intense scrutiny under the Narendra Modi government, had filed a charge sheet against Naik, the founder of Islamic Research Foundation, for allegedly inciting young persons for terror activities and giving hate speeches.
The Modi government has already banned the IRF for five years. The entire case against Naik was based on a media report published in a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, which had alleged that one of the suicide bombers was inspired by his talks. Unbeknownst to the Indian media, the Daily Star had later apologised for its fake reporting.
Continuing the harassment against the IRF founder, the Mumbai civic body’s education department had said that Naik’s Islamic International School (IIS) in south Mumbai was operating without authorisation.
Besides the IRF, Naik is also the founder trustee of the IRF Educational Trust and the Islamic Dimensions Trust. Naik has rejected all allegations of involvement in terror-related activities and opposed the ban on the IRF.