KUALA LUMPUR: Controversial preacher Zakir Naik, whose Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has been banned in India, has been given Malaysian citizenship, claims a report in the Hindustan Times.
The report also said that Zakir, under investigation by police and the National Investigation Agency (NIS), was believed to be in hiding in Malaysia.
Both claims could not be immediately confirmed by FMT.
Zakir is under investigation for spreading communal hatred and glorifying terrorism.
The Hindustan Times report said that authorities, who had thought he was hiding in Africa or Thailand, now believed he was in Malaysia.
It quoted “people representing Zakir in his absence in Mumbai” as confirming his Malaysian citizenship.
“It is the state policy of Malaysia to offer citizenship to the awardees of the highest civilian honour of their land. Naik is now a Malaysian citizen too,” the Hindustan Times quoted a representative of Zakir as saying.
The report said that as investigators homed in on Zakir, the dual citizenship was likely to benefit him.
It said Malaysia was also a favourite of now-arrested underworld gangster Chhota Rajan, who was alleged to have been holed up there for years before being extradited from Indonesia.
Rajan, who also underwent medical treatment in Malaysia, feared being handed over to Indian authorities. His aide, Aftab Alam alias Haji, is still suspected to be holed up in Malaysia, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Zakir issued a statement on Friday criticising the Indian Government’s move to ban the IRF and registering a case against him.
He reiterated, in the statement issued by the IRF, that he had always advocated peace and condemned violence in all its forms.
Zakir said in the statement: “I expected professional investigators from government agencies to do a thorough job. Had they done so, this issue would have been a no brainer, a non-issue. But I guess that was not the plan. The plan was to ban, not investigate.”
The statement, according to a Hindustan Times report, did not mention any possibility of him returning to India.
In the past few days, according to the report, the NIA conducted raids at 20 commercial and residential properties of Zakir and seized several documents.
The officials found the IRF had given a scholarship of Rs80,000 (RM5,220) to Abu Anas, an accused in another case pertaining to the Islamic State. The scholarship was given in October last year.
Bangladesh had, in August, banned the broadcast of Zakir’s speeches on television.
This followed investigations which revealed that his speeches had inspired terrorists involved in the July 1 Dhaka cafe massacre in which 22 persons were killed. – FMT