- Zakir Naik is flying back to India: Malaysian government source to NDTV
- Naik has called the report "totally baseless and false"
- Home ministry says it has no communication from Malaysia on Naik's return
Zakir Naik, the controversial preacher known for hate speeches that allegedly inspired an ISIS terrorist involved in the 2016 Dhaka attack, is heading back to India from Malaysia, sources told NDTV on Tuesday.
"He is out of the country tonight. He will be taking a flight to India today I believe," a Malaysian government source told NDTV in Kuala Lumpur.
Naik has called the report "totally baseless and false". He was quoted as saying: "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 Dato Shaharuddin Ali said "as of today", there is no truth in the report that Zakir Naik was being sent back to India. Neither had he been served any extradition papers, he added.
The home ministry says it has no communication from Malaysia on Naik's return.
The controversial preacher left India in 2016 and has been living in Putrajaya in Malaysia since. He was also given a permanent residency and embraced by top Malaysian government officials.
When NDTV asked why he was "welcome" there, the source said: "You will have to ask the last government."
Indian investigators have been demanding that Malaysia hand him over as he is wanted by the anti-terror National Investigation Agency.
Malaysia said India had failed to produce a red corner notice - which acts like an international arrest warrant - against him. "In our conversations with Indian authorities like RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), we said please give us an Interpol notice and we will arrest him, but they failed to do so," said an official.
There has been speculation about a change of policy on Zakir Naik's stay in Malaysia after the exit of the Najib Razak government, the legal fight for which is on in court.
The Home Minister of Malaysia was recently quoted as saying that Zakir Naik was subject to local laws if he had committed a crime.
However, the police authorities couldn't confirm if his return was part of negotiations with India.
Last year, the NIA prepared charges against Zakir Naik, saying he has been "promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through public speeches and lectures."
Naik, a 52-year-old medical doctor, has in his inflammatory speeches recommended death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam. He is heard saying in a YouTube video that if Osama bin Laden was "terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him".
A channel called "Peace TV", which features Zakir Naik's preachings, was banned by Bangladesh after reports claimed that terrorists at a Dhaka cafe that killed 22 people were inspired by him.