Kuala Lumpur, Sep 17: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has rejected India's claim that PM Narendra Modi asked Malaysia for controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's custody.
The Malaysian prime minister added that his Indian counterpart whom he met in Russia during an economic forum earlier this month made no extradition request for the controversial Islamic televangelist despite official notice from New Delhi.
Speaking to local media, Mahathir Mohamad said,"Not many countries want him. I met Prime Minister Modi, he didn't ask me for him. This man could also be troublesome for India."
"Zakir Naik isn't a national of this country, he was given permanent status by previous govt. Permanent resident isn't supposed to make comments on country's system or politics, he breached that, so now he isn't allowed to speak," he further said to Malaysian media.
He also said that Putrajaya is still looking for a place to send Dr Zakir who has made racially sensitive comments recently accusing Hindu Malaysians of being more loyal to Modi.
His statement comes nearly a fortnight after Prime Minister Modi met his Malaysian counterpart in Russia at the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum meet.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had told media that PM Modi had raised the issue of Zakir Naik's extradition from Malaysia during his meeting with Mahathir.
"Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us," Gokhale had said.
Zakir Naik, a 53-year-old radical television preacher, left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to the largely Muslim Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.
He is wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.
The current Malaysian government has so far not decided on sending him back to India but has barred him from delivering his public speeches.