High drama as two Hindraf men are released (Lead)

April 5th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Hindraf Kuala Lumpur, April 5 (IANS) Two leaders of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were released from jail Sunday afternoon to reunite with their families and supporters, following an amnesty by new Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
Also released was an Indian national, Sundaraj Vijay, who, besides two Myanmarese, had been caught with forged travel papers and had been in jail for two years under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

The 13 ISA detainees were escorted out of the Kamunting detention centre in Perak state.

V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan of the Hindraf were released along with eight Islamist extremists - seven from Darul Islam Sabah and one from terror network Jemaah Islamiah.

Ganabatirau and Kengadharan left the camp in police escort vehicles and were driven straight to their homes in Shah Alam and Kelana Jaya respectively, Star Online said.

The others were allowed to walk out of the centre gates but were immediately led into an awaiting van which took them to their homes.

Supporters and family members of the Hindraf duo had begun arriving in droves to the camp outside the Kamunting centre since morning in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the two as they left.

Despite the sweltering morning heat, which only worsened as afternoon approached, the crowd swelled to more than 100 people, forcing the police light strike force to be deployed at about 11 a.m. to keep the situation under control.

Some began chanting in Tamil, their support for Prime Minister Razak.

Contractor C. Kanasa plonked himself down on a stool outside the jail gates and got his nephew N. Gobinaath, 15, to shave his beard off.

“I’ve been keeping this beard since the ‘Hindraf Five’ were detained on Dec 13, 2007. Now, since two are being released, I am shaving it off.

“If Najib releases the other three, I will shave my entire head,” he said.

The wives of Ganabatirau and Kengadharan, along with relatives and friends, were also amongst the large entourage outside the centre.

Both women were seen huddling under a shared umbrella and chatting with one another as they awaited the release of their husbands.

When interviewed, they said their husbands were looking forward to only one thing after their release - reuniting with their families.

Kengadharan’s wife M. Kalaivani said her husband’s priorities were his family and his career.

“Whether he decides to resume his social activities remains to be seen. At this point he just misses his family and wants to resume his practice,” she said.

The 41-year-old medical officer added that like Ganabatirau, her husband was very upset that the other three Hindraf detainees had yet to be released.

Ganabatirau and Kengadharan were detained together with fellow lawyers P. Uthayakumar and M. Manoharan, as well as Hindraf coordinator K. Vasantha Kumar, for organising a mammoth gathering on Nov 25, 2007.

Ganabatirau’s wife, B. Buwaneswary, 33, said since her husband was detained in 2007, he had not once indicated that he had abandoned his beliefs or his convictions.

“My husband is a steadfast man. He has not weakened in his beliefs and he is honest about it,” she said, adding that she would encourage her husband in anything he wanted to do.

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