India’s ‘legal process for Zakir Naik’s extradition nearing completion’

India’s legal process for approaching Malaysia for the extradition of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is “nearing completion” and soon an official request will be sent, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said that the ministry’s internal process was underway in the case, news agency PTI reported.

“The formal request for assistance of a foreign government is such case requires a legal process. We are nearing the completion of this exercise. Soon an official request will be made to the Malaysian government. The internal process we have to complete is also underway,” he said.

According to media reports, Naik was in Malaysia after obtaining permanent residency there five years ago. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has charged Naik and the Mumbai-based non-profit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) that he founded in 1991 with indulging in unlawful activities and promoting religious hatred.

The government has imposed a five-year ban on the IRF under the country’s anti-terror laws and has declared Naik an absconder.

Zakir, 52, charge-sheeted  by NIA for his alleged role in “terror funding and money laundering cases”, has denied the accusations and has claimed that he was being targeted by the Indian government as part of “religious persecution of minorities in India”.

Opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) had previously urged the government to disregard any potential Indian extradition request, saying the allegations aim “to block his influence and efforts to spread religious awareness among the international community”.

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