(Used by permission)
by Soon Li Tsin
The police have arrested three key leaders behind the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) – lawyers P Uthayakumar, P Waythamoorthy and V Ganapathy Rao, just as the movement is preparing for a mass rally this Sunday.
Waythamoorthy, who is Hindraf chairperson, informed Malaysiakini of his arrest via SMS (Short Messaging Service).
According to the lawyer, he was arrested at the Shah Alam toll plaza at about 3pm and was taken to the Selangor police headquarters in Shah Alam.
Ganapathy was arrested around the same time at the police headquarters where he
had gone to see Hindraf’s legal adviser and Waythamoorthy’s brother, Uthayakumar.
Uthayakumar was picked up at his office in Kuala Lumpur under the Sedition Act this morning.
The three are expected to be taken to the Klang Sessions Court where they will be charged with sedition.
“If I am charged, I don’t want to be bailed out as a matter of protest,” Waythamoorthy told Malaysiakini in a SMS, adding that the Indian community should be able to handle the Sunday rally on their own.
The arrests come ahead of a Hindraf–organised mass rally slated for this weekend outside the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
First to be arrested
Uthayakumar was arrested at his legal firm in Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur at about 10.30am, said the lawyer’s employee K Vasan.
“He was arrested under the Sedition Act. Five police officers from IPK Shah Alam picked him up,” he said.
On Monday, the police had raided Uthayakumar’s law office in Kuala Lumpur with a warrant, in search of a publication deemed to be seditious in content.
Five police officers conducted a search of his office, while about 10 officers searched another office operated by his brother and Hindraf chairperson Waythamoorthy in Seremban, Negri Sembilan.
While the police left Uthayakumar’s office empty handed, they were said to have seized certain documents from Wathyamoorthy's office.
The brothers are key activists in the planning of a mass rally on Sunday, which has been banned by the police.
The rally is organised by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), in which Uthayakumar serves as legal adviser.
Hindraf plans to gather 10,000 Indians to hand a memorandum addressed to the Queen of England to support a class–action suit against Her Majesty’s government for bringing Indians to Malaysia as indentured labourers and exploiting them for 150 years.
A total of US$4 trillion (RM14 trillion) is being sought for US$2 million for every Indian residing in Malaysia.
Prior to the arrest, the police had gone to Uthayakumar's house in Bangsar to serve him with a restraining order against participating in the rally.
The order, obtained from the Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court, restrains Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy, lawyers M Mahonaran, Ganapathy, R Kengadharan and all Hindraf supporters from participating in the gathering, on grounds that the rally could endanger the public.
When contacted, Manoharan said he too has been served with the order which prevents him and the others from going to the British High Commission for seven days beginning on Nov 22.
“The notice was served on me at 7.50am today. The order was made under Section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court,” he said.
Section 98 grants the court powers to issue an immediate order in urgent cases of potential nuisance.
According to Manoharan, the application for the restraining order was made by the Cheras police station and served on him by officers from police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
He said he will be making the necessary application to set aside the court order.
Manoharan was one of four lawyers – the others being Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy and S Ganabathi Rao – arrested in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Padang Jawa, near Shah Alam, during a fracas surrounding the demolition of a century–old Hindu temple on Oct 31. They were later released.