Tuesday, February 15, 2011

51 Hindraf supporters freed

PETALING JAYA: Fifty-one Hindraf Makkal Sakthi members who were arrested for participating in the People’s March for solidarity against the Barisan Nasional (BN) were released yesterday.

The movement’s pro-tem secretary-general, P Uthayakumar, said the release was carried out in stages.

“The first batch was freed in Ipoh at 3pm, followed by those in Jalan Travers in Kuala Lumpur at 8.30pm and the others at the Gombak and Seremban police stations at about 11pm,” said Uthayakumar.

However, 24 others – 18 men and six women – are still being detained at the Seremban police headquarters.

Yesterday morning, the police moved in to stop the Hindraf 16-car convoy which started in Negri Sembilan, Perak, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, with each convoy ending in another destination in the respective states. The police claim it was an illegal event.

The protest was aimed at Umno and also to pressure the government to remove the controversial Interlok novel from schools.

Among those arrested in the nationwide swoop were the movement’s information chief, S Jayathas, who was detained in Gombak, and four school-going children.

Jayathas had since been released together with the children.

Illegal interrogation

Uthayakumar said that the children, who were released at 12.15am today, were questioned by the police till the wee hours of the night.

“They were interrogated without the being accompanied by their parents, which is illegal,” said Uthayakumar.

He also refuted reports that the police arrested only 59 in the crackdown yesterday.

“According to our records, 75 were detained,” he said.

Uthayakumar also criticised the Seremban police headquarters for not providing medical assistance to Negeri Sembilan Hindraf Makkal Sakthi coordinator, R Sivakumar.

Sivakumar is said to be suffering from viral infection on his feet and his wife had lodged a report on the matter at the police headquarters.

“His wife also told me that Sivakumar’s feet are now swollen and he is unable to walk. However, the police have yet to send him to hospital; they are planning to extend his remand.

“If the police do not release him and the remaining detainees, we will hold a candle-light vigil at the Seremban police headquarters at 7pm today,” said Uthayakumar.

Uthayakumar also said that Seremban police had threatened to extend the remand of the remaining detainees to another seven days if they do not hand in their Hindraf T-shirts.

“The detainees refused to do so as the police had taken pictures of them in the T-shirts.

“The police can use the photographs as evidence in court. There is no need for them to hand over their T-shirts,” said Uthayakumar, who claimed it was an abuse of power.

When contacted, an officer from the Seremban police headquarters, who claimed anonymity, denied threatening the detainees.

“We are following all procedures in dealing with this case,” he said, adding that they have obtained the shirt from the detainees voluntarily.