Friday, February 29, 2008

Concerns conveyed to Malaysia over Ethnic Indians' grievances: Mukherjee

Concerns conveyed to Malaysia over ethnic Indians' grievances: Mukherjee
Friday, February 29, 2008
From correspondents in Delhi, India, 12:32 AM IST

India has expressed concerns to Malaysian authorities on grievances expressed by certain Malaysians of Indian origin over their social conditions and religious rights, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament Thursday.

'During our interactions with Malaysian authorities, concerns expressed in India, including in the parliament, regarding developments pertaining to the Indian community in Malaysia have been suitably conveyed,' Mukherjee said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

On Nov 25, 2007, a rally was organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in Kuala Lumpur to hand over a petition to the British High Commission to seek support for a class action suit filed in Britain over exploitation of Indians who were brought to Malaysia as indentured labour in the colonial days.

'During this rally as well as subsequently, difficulties and concerns pertaining to economic and social conditions and religious rights of the Indian community in Malaysia have been highlighted,' he said.

Indians, who came to Malaysia mainly as indentured labourers, account for about eight percent of the total population and 'are well-integrated in Malaysian society'.

Mukherjee noted that Malaysian citizens of Indian origin were active in various walks of life including government and their rights were also derived from the Malaysian constitution.

'Members of Indian community have, however, also articulated their concerns and grievances regarding their standing in the country,' he said.

He pointed out that he had made a statement before the house Nov 30, 2007 after concerns expressed by parliamentarians over the alleged harassment of participants at the Hindraf rally.

According to the written reply, the Indian government remains 'deeply solicitous for the welfare of people of Indian origin living abroad and noted that there is a large community of people of Indian origin in Malaysia who are citizens of that country.'

Mukherjee noted that India has friendly relations with Malaysia and was in 'touch with Malaysian authorities in the related matter.

(Staff Writer, © IANS)

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