Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad to take steps to extradite controversial preacher Zakir Naik who is wanted in India for inciting terrorism and money laundering. It is not clear yet if the Malaysian premier gave any assurances but the two leaders decided that the officials will stay in touch on this issue.
“Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters after PM Modi’s bilateral meetings ahead of the three-day Eastern Economic Summit.
This is the second meeting between the two leaders, the first was in May last year when Prime Minister called on Dr Mahathir in Putrajaya.
PM Modi, who landed in the major port city of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East yesterday, has held a string of bilateral meetings with world leaders. Early on Thursday, he also met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the multi-faceted ties between the two countries.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the discussions with Dr Mahathir Mohamad were focused on the multiple layers of the bilateral relationship with Malaysia.
India’s decision to escalate the pending extradition request for Zakir Naik to the level of the prime ministers is also designed to signal the importance that New Delhi attaches to action against Naik.
The polarising preacher has been on the radar of Indian security agencies for years but it was only after the men involved in the 2016 terror attack in Bangladesh’s Dhaka described Naik as their inspiration that the crackdown began.