Indian PM Narendra Modi raises Dr Zakir Naik issue in meet with Dr M in Russia

Jerry Choong
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seen during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok September 5, 2019. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — The extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik was among the subjects discussed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of an international conference in Russia.

The Times of India today reported that Dr Mahathir met Modi during the fifth Eastern Economic Forum in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale was quoted as saying that Modi raised the issue of Dr Zakir’s extradition and that both countries will stay in contact over the issue, which India deems as important.

In June, India’s Enforcement Directorate said it will seek Interpol’s cooperation in detaining Dr Zakir, so that he can be extradited to the country where he is accused of laundering some RM115 million in illegal funds.

The preacher has since been under the radar after Bukit Aman issued a ban on him from publicly speaking on August 20, on the grounds of national security and to preserve racial harmony. 

Dr Zakir was also called in several times to give statements following remarks he made during a talk in Kelantan on August 8, which were deemed offensive to the Indian and Chinese communities.

During the meeting, Modi and Dr Mahathir also discussed recent developments surrounding the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, and the growing threat of terrorism there.

“PM Modi explained to Dr Mahathir the rationale behind the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in terms of both giving effective governance and delivering socio-economic justice.

“And in that context, the two leaders discussion focused on terrorism, and how to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” Gokhale said, adding that Dr Mahathir acknowledged terrorism as a global problem and that Malaysia is against any form of terrorism.

On August 5, New Delhi issued a presidential order to scrap Article 370 of India’s Constitution, which granted special status to Kashmir, the country’s sole Muslim-majority state. The order was met with large-scale protests in Kashmir.

Talks of trade and diversifying Malaysia-India bilateral ties also took place, with Dr Mahathir telling Modi that although Malaysia has a trade surplus, it is looking at ways to balance this and as such may consider imports from India so that its exports to Malaysia can grow.

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