Promising full cooperation in India’s quest to bring controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik back to the country, a close aide of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said today that Bangladesh will never allow its territory to be used by elements hostile to New Delhi.
After delivering a talk in New Delhi on “Indo-Bangladesh: Historical and contemporary perspective”, Hossain Toufique Imam, political advisor to Ms Hasina, answered a question from a reporter on Zakir Naik. He said Naik would never get access to Bangladesh and his country would cooperate with India on the matter.
“We will fully cooperate with India. Our government is committed to its declared policy of zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism. The soil of Bangladesh will never be allowed to be used by elements who are hostile to our neighbours,” Ms Hasina’s aide said.
Mr Naik found himself in the eye of a storm after news reports surfaced that at least two of the terrorists behind the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka in July 2016 were “inspired by his preaching about Islam.”
Rohan Imtiaz, one of the suspected attackers, is said to have posted a message on Facebook quoting Naik prior to the attack.
Zakir Naik is being probed under terror and money laundering charges by the National Investigation Agency. He left India in July 2016 after the Dhaka terrorist attack.
The NIA first registered a case against Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.
The NIA and the Mumbai Police, subsequently, carried out searches at 10 places in Mumbai, including the residential premises of some of the office-bearers of the foundation run by Naik. The foundation was earlier put on restricted list by the Home Ministry for receiving funds from abroad.
There were media reports this week about the 52-year-old Naik’s deportation to India by the government of Malaysia, where Naik has managed to get the permanent residency status.
Following the reports, Naik in a statement said he would not return to India till he felt “safe from unfair prosecution”.
Yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ruled out deporting the controversial Islamic preacher to India if he does not create problems in his country.
In January, India made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik. India has an extradition treaty with Malaysia.