Prime Minister Modi is on a two-day state visit to Russia to participate in the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit and the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
Briefing media on the sidelines of the EEF, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, said: “Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of Zakir Naik's extradition. Both parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter. It is an important issue for us".
Naik, 53, fled India after being charged with spreading hatred, money laundering, and funding terror in the aftermath of the Holey Artisan Bakery explosion in the Bangladeshi capital city of Dhaka on 1 July 2016 which claimed 29 lives.
Investigations into the terror attack in Dhaka revealed the terrorists involved in the brutal killings were influenced by Zakir Naik.
Naik also controversially described the 9/11 World Trade Centre, Philadelphia, and the Pentagon terror attacks in the US in 2001 as an “inside job”.
Currently residing in Malaysia, Naik drew authorities’ attention last month after he made controversial remarks against the country’s Hindus and Chinese during an event in the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu, prompting calls for his deportation to India.
Though the popular televangelist and Islamic preacher later apologised for his remarks, the Malaysian government banned him from giving public speeches. The police said Naik had been banned from speaking in the interests of national security.
Naik, however, claims he is not a racist and maintains his critics have been taking his comments out of context while adding "strange fabrications to them".
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad recently said it was "quite clear" that Naik wanted to participate in racial politics. "He is stirring up racial feelings. The police will have to investigate whether it is causing tension; obviously, it is".
“You can preach (religiously). But he wasn't doing that. He was talking about Chinese going back to China and Indians going back to India. I have never said such things. But he did. That is politics", the Malaysian prime minister said last month.
Incidentally, in July 2018, the Malaysian prime minister met Naik soon after the former won the country's general elections. That meeting took place a day after he had ruled out deporting Naik unless he breaks the country’s laws.
Though Malaysia is a Muslim-majority nation, minority Hindus and ethnic Chinese living there enjoy equal rights.
Naik is the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation and a popular televangelist in several Islamic countries. Trained as a physician before switching over to religious preaching, Naik’s radical speeches are banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
According to Indian Foreign Secretary Gokhale, both PM Modi and Mahathir Mohamad agreed in Vladivostok that terrorism is a global problem as they discussed ways to cope with it.