Malaysian Indian woman faces new hurdle to get child from husband

April 29th, 2009 - 12:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Ipoh (Malaysia), April 29 (IANS) Malaysian Indian woman Indira Gandhi was facing a fresh hurdle in recovering her infant daughter from her husband who has been granted interim permission to retain the child by an Islamic court. Gandhi’s husband had converted to Islam and taken away the one-year-old girl from her.
Lawmaker M. Kulasegaran, who is fighting her case, has challenged Perak state Mufti Harusani Zakaria’s statement permitting Gandhi’s husband Patmanathan, who converted to Islam last month, to keep the child.

Kulasegaran told The Star newspaper that the clergy’s stand was against the Malaysian cabinet’s directive issued last week that a child should retain the religion of the parents at the time of the wedding even if either of them changes faith.

Gandhi, 35, is also armed with a ruling by Perak’s high court asking the husband to surrender the child and keep away from the family.

A kindergarten teacher, Gandhi is trying to recover Prasanna Diksha who was taken away by Patmanathan. He is intent on converting all the three children to Islam, she said.

The cabinet decision, prompted by her case, applies to all communities in multi-religious Malaysia and has been widely welcomed.

Gandhi has launched a poster campaign appealing to the public to locate her husband. She has distributed 5,000 posters.

But there are only words of support and encouragement, not specific information about the whereabouts of Patmanathan.

“The callers give words of encouragement and tell us not to give up hope in our search for them,” she said.

“I thank the callers for their encouragement but we really need information on my baby’s whereabouts,” she said, noting that there were also calls for the posters to be distributed to other states.

Kulasegaran said following the putting up of the posters, they had received at least 15 calls.

“I would say the response has been good,” he said.

Kulasegaran believed that Patmanathan and Prasana are in Ipoh and that they are being “protected” by someone to sabotage the Ipoh high court’s order.

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