Hindraf leader must return home: Malaysia

July 15th, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, July 15 (IANS) The Malaysian government said it has not revoked the passport of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P. Waytha Moorthy, who is believed to be in Britain, and asked him to return to his country to clear his name. “If he feels that he has done nothing wrong, he can come back to give a statement to the authorities,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri said in parliament about the ethnic Indian leader.

The minister was responding to a question from ethnic Indian opposition lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh.

Moorthy, who left the country soon after the Hindraf staged a controversial protest rally last November, has been traveling in Britain as per media reports.

He has repeatedly said that his passport, valid till end-2009, has been revoked, a charge the government has denied.

The Hindraf rally, which attracted an estimated 10,000, sought to highlight the perceived discrimination in jobs and education of ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Hindu Tamils, who came from India during the British era.

It was declared illegal and forcibly dispersed by the police after whom the government charged Hindraf leaders with trying to disturb the delicate ethnic balance in Malaysia and having terror links.

Ethnic Indians account for eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population, while Chinese form 33 percent.

Five Hindraf leaders who organised the rally - M. Manoharan, R. Kengadharan, Vasanth Kumar, P. Uthaya Kumar and Ganabati Rau - are serving two years in jail under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

The government has not heeded appeals from political parties and human rights bodies for their release, saying that their detention was “in national interest”.

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