Malaysian Indians urged to support Hindraf with low-key Diwali

August 26th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 26 (IANS) Malaysian Indians have been urged to keep celebrations during this year’s Hindu festival of Diwali low-key as a show of solidarity with the detained leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).The call by the Malaysian Indian Business Association came Monday even as serious dissensions surfaced within the Hindraf, with its chief accusing one of the detainees of being “a government plant”.

Association president P. Sivakumar said he was calling on the group’s 1,200 members and Hindus across the country to celebrate Diwali moderately “out of respect” for the detained leaders.

Five Hindraf leaders - M. Manoharan, Vasant Kumar, P. Uthayakumar, Ganabatirau and K. Kengadharan - are serving two-year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) after they organised a massive protest rally on Nov 25, 2007 alleging discrimination against the two million-plus Tamil Hindus in jobs and education.

“Let us sacrifice one day for the people who have sacrificed so much for the community,” Sivakumar was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times Tuesday.

Hindraf claims to speak for the Indians in Malaysia, predominantly Tamil Hindus. Ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils who came here during the British era, form roughly eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

Sivakumar also asked Hindus to observe Diwali, the festival of lights, by being vegetarian and holding prayers. The association president urged Hindus to avoid going to any open house organised by political parties as a sign of protest against their detention.

But he stressed that he was not seeking a boycott and had “no hidden agenda”.

Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy has, meanwhile, accused one of the five detainees - Vasantha Kumar - of being a government plant, asked by the Special Branch “to infiltrate Hindraf”.

The allegation has been vehemently contested by Vasantha Kumar’s wife, K. Vickneswary, who has in turn accused Murthy of “running away”.

Murthy left Malaysia after the November protest rally, visited some countries, including India, to garner support for Hindraf, and has been in Britain for the past many months.

In a statement posted on Hindraf’s official web site, Murthy said that two top government officials had confirmed that Vasantha Kumar was “assigned” to break up Hindraf lawyers.

Vickneswary has vehemently denied these allegations.

“It does not make sense for a Special Branch member to be detained under the ISA. The rumours have been around since the day he was arrested. This is nonsense.

“I don’t know why Waytha Moorthy is making such allegations. It is only causing friction among the detained leaders, which would lead to the destruction of the movement.”

She added: “Waytha Moorthy wanted to call off the rally but it was my husband who insisted it go on. From then, there was bad blood between the two.”

She accused Waytha Moorthy of “chickening out” of the rally. “He ran away and allowed other Hindraf leaders to languish in jail.

“If he is going to accuse my husband of anything, I challenge him to come back here and do it, not from a foreign land,” she said.

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