Activist Uthayakumar is pleased with the results of his New Delhi meeting with senior officials of the Indian opposition party.
GEORGE TOWN: A senior MP in India has promised to pursue the idea of forming a parliamentary caucus to fight for the rights of Malaysian Indians, according to human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar.
He said Avinash Rai Khanna, who heads the Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) in Punjab, would confer on the matter with BJP supremo Lal Krishna Advani and parliamentary opposition leader Sushma Suvaraj.
Uthayakumar and several other delegates from Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and the Malaysian Human Rights Party (HRP) were in New Delhi recently to attend a conference on the Indian diaspora.
They had a meeting last Monday with Avinash and other BJP officials at that party’s headquarters in the Indian capital.
“It was a major breakthrough in our efforts to form the caucus,” he told FMT today.
“BJP officials were shell shocked to learn of the level of atrocities befalling the Malaysian Indian poor.”
They had thought of Malaysia only as a “prosperous and fair country with the world’s tallest twin towers”, he added.
Avinash was one of nine senior BJP officials at the meeting. Among the others were the party’s Kashmir chief, Dr Nirmal Singh, secretary-general Vijay Goel and supreme court judge Sudhir Aggarwal.
Aggarwal heads BJP’s human rights cell, of which Avinash is a member The meeting was facilitated by Vivek Goyal, a senior lawyer and Hindraf sympathiser.
Human rights violations
“The caucus would be an important group to lobby the New Delhi administration to pressure its Malaysian counterpart to address and resolve the Indian predicament,” Uthayakumar said.
“Hindraf-HRP and the caucus will be a thorn in the flesh in New Delhi-Putrajaya ties until the plight of Malaysian Indians has been addressed.
“The caucus aside, Avinash nonetheless will raise the question of serious human rights violations against poor Malaysian Indians by the Umno-led Putrajaya administration.”
He said Avinash had promised to speak up on such Malaysian Indian problems as statelessness, forced conversion to Islam and discrimination in employment and education.
At Monday’s meeting, Uthayakumar briefed the BJP officials on the contents of the Hindraf-HRP report on Malaysian Indian Minority and Human Rights Violations for the year 2010.
The report noted that the first batch of students under the Universiti Sains Malaysia international medical programme commenced classes last September in Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Belgaum, Karnataka, India. Of the 74 students in the programme, only one is Indian. She is Abilasha Nair of Johor.
Uthayakumar said he also told the BJP officials that the 15 ethnic Indian MPs in Malaysia were all political mandores playing to the dominant Malay-Chinese gallery.