FPJ Exclusive: Controversial preacher Zakir Naik, wanted in NIA & ED cases, reaches Oman; India taps diplomatic channels for detention and extradition

FPJ Exclusive: Controversial preacher Zakir Naik, wanted in NIA & ED cases, reaches Oman; India taps diplomatic channels for detention and extradition

India’s security –diplomatic establishments are keeping an eye on the situation to make diplomatic efforts with authorities in Oman to explore options for Naik’s detention there, then subsequent deportation / extradition to India to stand trial in pending cases in courts, a senior counter-terror official said.

Abhishek SharanUpdated: Thursday, March 23, 2023, 12:51 PM IST
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Controversial Preacher Zakir Naik | Twitter

Mumbai: Controversial Islamic preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted in the investigations conducted against him and others by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that began in 2016-2017, arrived the Sultanate of Oman on Wednesday morning, purportedly as a ‘State Guest’ on a public lecture tour on Ramzan eve, setting alarm bells ringing in Delhi’s national security establishment, sources told FPJ.

India’s security –diplomatic establishments are keeping an eye on the situation to make diplomatic efforts with authorities in Oman to explore options for Naik’s detention there, then subsequent deportation / extradition to India to stand trial in pending cases in courts, a senior counter-terror official said. Naik has rejected all allegations of wrongdoing against him. Naik’s media advisor in India, who spoke to FPJ, claimed, however, that the authorities in Oman have so far allegedly told the controversial preacher that he is there as a State Guest and that any likelihood of them detaining him for his eventual return to India is “baseless”.

Naik reached Oman at around 5 a.m. on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he has been given permanent resident status by the Malaysian government, sources said. The sources said that diplomatic efforts are being made by India with their counterparts in Oman to examine the legal options available for Naik’s detention. India and Oman had concluded a mutual extradition treaty in June 2006, sources pointed out. Naik is living in Malaysia, after fleeing from India in 2016.

Naik's first lecture on 'The Holy Quran is a Global Necessity'

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

“Mr Zakir Naik is in Oman as a State Guest to deliver two lectures on Thursday and Saturday, as per what he told me on Wednesday after reaching Oman from Kualalumpur. Oman’s authorities, on being asked, scotched reports that he could be detained there during this trip while talking to him,” Naik’s media advisor, requesting anonymity, told FPJ. “Mr Naik had checked with Oman’s authorities about the prospects of his detention there in view of Indian media reports on Tuesday night, when he was en-route to the Kuala Lumpur airport, and on Wednesday, after he reached Oman. He was received in Oman by representatives of Oman’s authorities, and all protocol was adhered to.” He said, “The two lectures will be open to the public in Oman, with no entry fee,” Naik’s media advisor said.

When asked, a senior Indian security official 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.”

Despite India’s attempts, since 2017, Interpol has refused to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Naik, on the basis of the NIA-ED probes’ evidence. Interpol had in December 2017, when it cancelled a provisional RCN, and later in July 2019, rejected India’s request for issuance of a Red Notice against Naik. An RCN warrants the detention of a subject by the host country globally.

In 2017 Mumbai NIA court issued non-bailable warrant

In April 2017, a Mumbai NIA court issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Naik who was wanted by the agency for his alleged role in a terror case. 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.

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.

Zakir's NFO banned

The Centre had in November 2016 placed a ban on Naik’s NGO, IRF, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which was extended for five years in November 2021.

In 2019, Naik had told the media that he has faith in India’s judicial system, but it was better before than it is now.

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