Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday rejected the claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked for controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to be extradited to India.
"Not many countries want him (Naik). India has not insisted. When I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he did not ask me that he wants this man back. This man could be troublesome for India," Mr Mahathir said in an interview with Malaysian radio station BFM's show, the Breakfast Grille.
PM Modi had met Mahathir Mohamad on the sidelines of the 5th East Economic Forum in Russia's Far Eastern city earlier this month. Following their meeting, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that the two leaders discussed the extradition of Naik.
"Prime Minister 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," Mr Gokhale had said then.
Mr Naik, who has been living in Malaysia for the last three years, is facing charges of inciting communal disharmony and committing unlawful activities in India. He is also facing probe both in India and Bangladesh in connection with the terror attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 2016.
Insisting that Zakir Naik was given permanent citizenship under the previous government, Mr Mahathir said that Kuala Lumpur is trying to find a "place" to send Naik.
"Not us but the previous government. We are trying to find a place where he can go but no one wants to accept him," said Mahathir upon being asked that if Naik was troublesome then why the government allow him in the country
He also assured that Zakir Naik would not be allowed to make public speeches in Malaysia following his racist remarks against Malaysian Chinese asked they be sent back to China.
"Well, he is not a national of this country. He has been given permanent status by the previous government. And permanent citizenship is not supposed to make any comment on his country's system and politics He has breached that and now he will not be allowed to speak," Mr Mahathir said.
In response to calls for his own deportation, Zakir Naik, during a religious talk titled "Executive Talk Bersama Dr Zakir Naik", had asked the Malaysian Chinese to "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.
His speech was condemned by many parties after he compared the Hindus in Malaysia with Muslims in India, saying that the "Hindus here enjoyed more than 100 per cent rights as compared to Muslims in India".