Malaysia cab­i­net di­vided over Zakir Naik’s de­por­ta­tion

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - HT Cor­re­spon­dent Zakir Naik

NEW DELHI: At least three In­di­ano­ri­gin min­is­ters in Malaysia have raised the is­sue of de­port­ing Zakir Naik to In­dia at a cab­i­net meet­ing this week, with one of them say­ing the mat­ter of the con­tro­ver­sial preacher shouldn’t be de­cided by “one man”.

The re­marks by hu­man re­sources min­is­ter M Ku­lasegaran on Fri­day came a week af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad ruled out hand­ing over Naik to In­dia as long as he doesn’t cre­ate prob­lems in Malaysia.

In­dia made a for­mal re­quest to Malaysia in Jan­uary to ex­tra­dite Naik, wanted by New Delhi for al­legedly in­cit­ing young­sters to join ter­ror­ism and fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Ku­lasegaran and com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Gobind Singh Deo both told the Malaysian me­dia they had raised the is­sue of Naik at a cab­i­net meet­ing on July 11 along with nat­u­ral re­sources min­is­ter Xavier Jayakumar.

“We, un­like the pre­vi­ous Barisan Na­sional gov­ern­ment, raised the mat­ter in cab­i­net. We dis­cussed it and con­cluded that we will ask the at­tor­ney-gen­eral if there is any for­mal re­quest from In­dia (for ex­tra­di­tion),” Ku­lasegaran said in a state­ment.

“Let the In­dian gov­ern­ment make the nec­es­sary de­por­ta­tion or­der, and we will fol­low the rule of law. The bot­tom line is that the In­dian gov­ern­ment must make that re­quest,” he added.

“This is the right way of do­ing things, it is not right for the gov­ern­ment nor one man to de­cide this mat­ter. It should be de­cided by law in the courts as they have the duty to dis­pense jus­tice,” said Ku­lasegaran, who is known as a critic of Naik.

Deo said on Thurs­day the gov­ern­ment will act on the ba­sis of “rule of law” in the case of Naik. “As far as the gov­ern­ment is con­cerned, In­dia has stated that it has a case,” he was quoted as say­ing by the Malaysian me­dia.

“So, I think what needs to be done is once the case is put for­ward, the de­ci­sion will be made whether to send him back or not,” he added.

Ku­lasegaran also said that when he goes to In­dia and “if I have the chance to meet In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, I will dis­cuss this mat­ter with him as well”.

Ear­lier this week, Ma­hathir said Malaysia would not give in eas­ily to de­mands to ex­tra­dite Naik. Re­spond­ing to ques­tions from the me­dia, he said the gov­ern­ment would look into all fac­tors be­fore re­spond­ing.

“We must look at all fac­tors be­fore we re­spond. Other­wise, some­one will be­come a vic­tim,” he said.

Naik, who met Ma­hathir last week, has ex­pressed his grat­i­tude to the Malaysian gov­ern­ment and the PM for al­low­ing him to re­main in the coun­try and ex­am­in­ing his case from an “un­bi­ased per­spec­tive”.

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