KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 ― An Indian law enforcement agency said it will examine Dr Zakir Naik’s recent visit to Malaysia, after Putrajaya confirmed that the fugitive preacher was granted permanent residency (PR) here five years ago.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which recently served a non-bailable warrant against Dr Zakir, also said it is aware of his visit to an April 16 event by Malay rights group Perkasa here, where he was given honorary membership and an award.
“We are looking into it,” an unnamed high-ranking ED officer was quoted saying by New Delhi-based daily Hindustan Times.
Indian authorities were also quoted saying that they will continue to explore their options under the mutual legal assistance treaty with Malaysia, although it does not cover arrest warrants.
“Efforts to bring him back will continue,” another unnamed government official was quoted saying.
Earlier this month, a court in Mumbai reportedly issued a non-bailable warrant for Dr Zakir’s arrest, in connection to a money laundering case filed against him by the ED, an agency under the country’s Ministry of Finance tasked with fighting economic crimes.
Last week, a special court under India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Mumbai issued another non-bailable warrant against Dr Zakir in a probe over his links to terrorism.
The NIA, which has a registered criminal case against the medical doctor by training, reportedly told the court that Dr Zakir failed to respond to three previous summons, adding that it will seek Interpol’s aid to secure the return of the preacher now residing in Malaysia.
Dr Zakir reportedly left India to avoid arrest after several perpetrators of a terror attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh claimed to have been inspired by his sermons, which prompted the NIA’s case against him under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The preacher is a polarising personality in Malaysia, alternately held in esteem by some in the Muslim community and reviled by those of other faiths due to his provocative teachings.
The local Hindu community, in particular, remains aggrieved with the preacher owing to remarks he previously made regarding their faith.
Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin last penned a poem criticising “cow worshippers” for seeking Dr Zakir’s expulsion, but withdrew it yesterday and apologised after drawing the ire of the local Hindu community.