Zakir Naik enjoying Omani hospitality as a state guest; MEA says they will bring him back

Zakir Naik enjoying Omani hospitality as a state guest; MEA says they will bring him back

Zakir Naik reached Oman on Wednesday, the Indian Government has been left red-faced with this development

Abhishek SharanUpdated: Saturday, March 25, 2023, 12:18 PM IST
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Zakir Naik | File Photo

A day after an FPJ exclusive report disclosed that controversial Islamic preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted in the investigations being conducted against him by the NIA and ED, is in Oman as a ‘state guest’, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said it will take all necessary steps to bring him back and have him face justice in India.

"We will continue to take all necessary measures to bring him to face justice in India,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in the weekly media briefing, to a question on Naik's visit to Oman and whether India has an extradition arrangement with the country. Naik reached the Sultanate of Oman Wednesday morning, purportedly as a ‘State Guest’ on a public lecture tour which will conclude on Saturday.

"Zakir Naik is an accused in numerous cases in India. He is a fugitive from justice. We have taken up the matter with the Government of Oman and Oman authorities," said Bagchi.

'Oman not on the list' of extradition treaty

Responding, however, to a pointed query on the preacher's extradition, Bagchi said he needs to confirm after vetting the ratified list if India has an extradition treaty with Oman. "As regards the extradition part, I will check on this. I think the list of countries we have an extradition treaty with is already in the public domain. Oman is not on the list. However, I do need to reconfirm," he said.

For the confirmation, one needs to just look up the MEA’s website. As per the website, an annexure (‘Annexure – A’) carries a list, titled ‘India has Extradition Arrangements with the following Countries’; in the list, Oman features at number 23, out of the 42 nations with which India has such a pact.

India–Oman Extradition Treaty

The India–Oman Extradition Treaty was published in the ‘Gazette of India: Extraordinary, Ministry of External Affairs, Order’, dated June 1, 2006, and is on the MEA site. The FPJ report had mentioned that India and Oman had concluded a mutual extradition treaty.

Naik reached Oman at around 5 am, on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he has been given permanent resident status by the Malaysian government.

Naik’s first lecture, scheduled on Thursday, was on the topic, 'The Holy Quran is a Global Necessity', at the 'Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre'. The lecture was organised by Oman’s Awqaf and Religious Affairs Ministry. Naik’s second lecture, on Saturday, will be on the topic, “Prophet Muhammad, A Mercy to Humankind”, at the Sultan Qaboos University.

Why is Zakir Naik wanted in India?

Naik left India in 2016. The same year, the NIA began a probe against him. In October 2017, consequent to its probe, the NIA had submitted a chargesheet against Naik, his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and a firm, Harmony Media Private Limited (HMPL). The chargesheet had accused Naik of promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures. ED’s money-laundering probe allegedly established that Naik had set up a few dummy firms. Naik has rejected all allegations of wrongdoings against him

In April 2017, a Mumbai NIA court had issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Naik. In September 2019, a Mumbai special court had issued a fresh NBW against Naik, who was then in Malaysia, in ED’s alleged money laundering case.

When asked, a senior Indian security official had said, “Diplomatic efforts will be made to convince Oman to detain Zakir Naik for further action within the existing legal framework. But, if he is Oman’s Guest there, as per claims, complications can arise, putting a spanner in the efforts.”

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