Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hindraf ceremonial protest: attention ! Mundan vidhi !

Hindraf organises novel protest

P.S. Suryanarayana

Demanding the release of the group’s leaders detained in Malaysia — PHOTO: AFP

DRAWING ATTENTION: Malaysian ethnic Indian activists, carrying portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, stage a dharna in front of a temple at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

SINGAPORE: In a novel protest, the Hindu Rights Action Force on Thursday organised a “head-shaving ceremony” at a temple in Malaysia, demanding the release of the group’s leaders detained without trial under the Internal Security Act.

The ceremony was held at the famous Lord Muruga temple at the Batu Caves on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

The protest was also aimed at demanding the acquittal of 26 other ethnic Indians, now on bail, in a case of “illegal” assembly and alleged rioting, said to have taken place outside the same temple on November 25.

The 26 persons, who were first charged with attempting to murder a police officer and later denied bail, were acquitted and granted bail a few days ago.

They were accused of rioting shortly before a mass protest rally that Hindraf held in Kuala Lumpur on November 25 to focus attention on the “plight” of the ethnic Indian minority in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Five Hindraf leaders are in detention without trial, accused of fanning “racial hatred” and posing “threat to national security.”

Prayer meetings

Hindraf has been holding prayer meetings at temples across Malaysia since the arrest of these five leaders.

On Thursday, the group took this prayer-campaign in a new direction. Sixteen Hindraf “supporters,” as different from members, had their heads shaved off on the banks of a river, about 400 metres from the temple at the Batu Caves.

After that, they marched to the temple, accompanied by nearly 200 others and offered prayers. This was followed by a short speech.

Narrating the sequence, Hindraf Coordinator Thanenthiran said, over telephone from Malaysia, that the 16 “supporters” involved in this novel protest included six teenagers and a three-year-old girl.

The objective, he said, was to sensitise the future generations of ethnic Indians as well to the issues of a fair deal for this section of citizens in Malaysia. Security personnel, present outside the temple, did not interfere with the ceremonial protest, Mr. Thanenthiran said.

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