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Rediff.com  » News » Malaysia: Indian leader arrested for organising protest

Malaysia: Indian leader arrested for organising protest

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November 29, 2007 11:36 IST

The Malaysian police on Thursday arrested the leader of a Hindu rights group, which had organised the largest-ever mass demonstration by ethnic Indians in Kuala Lumpur last week, to protest their alleged marginalisation in the country.

V Ganapathy Rao, a member of the Hindu Rights Action Force was picked up by the police from his office.

P Uthayakumar, Waytha Moorthy and Rao are the three main leaders of Hindraf, a non-governmental group which called the rally on Sunday in which over 10,000 Indians took part. They wanted to march to the British High Commission and hand over a memorandum complaining about the marginalisation of Indians from the time their ancestors were brought to the then Malaya as indentured labourers.

The government declared that the demonstration was illegal and the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protestors.

The three men were arrested and charged last week with sedition in connection with a speech they had made earlier. However, they were freed on technical grounds when prosecutors failed to produce a copy of the speech in Tamil, the language in which they had spoken.

Indians form eight per cent of Malaysia's population of 27 million. They allege discrimination by an affirmative action policy which allegedly favours Malays for government and business jobs.

However, the government claims that the nation offers equal opportunities for everyone.

Eighty-eight ethnic Indians were arrested on Wednesday for participating in Sunday's rally. If convicted, they would have to serve time between six months and two years.

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