Two Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders V Ganabatirau and R Kenghadharan were today released from the Kamunting Detention Camp in Perak at about 1.20pm.
They were immediately met by their families and driven back home in police patrol cars, which followed cars belonging to their respective family members in a convoy to Kuala Lumpur.
The duo were among five Hindraf leaders held in detention for 15 months after organising a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2007, accusing the government of marginalising the Indian community in the country.
They were detained under the Internal Security Act - which provides for detention without trial - in late December 2007.
"This is the moment that the whole family is waiting for but I hope the new prime minister will hear the Indian community's plea to release the three others Hindraf leaders as well," Ganabatirau's brother, V Papparaidu, told AFP.
A Kannappan, a 56-year-old businessman who managed to shake hands with the Hindraf duo outside the detention centre as they left, said they "look healthy and were smiling".
Another eight detainees were released including one from Jemaah Islamiah and six from Darul Islam Sabah.
Earlier, at about 10.45am, three foreigners were also released and were taken away in an Immigration Department vehicle.
Kenghadharan, on reaching his Kelana Jaya condominium at 1.20pm, immediately hugged his son and was greeted by family members and friends (right).
Free the other three, Najib urged
He thanked Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for his release but urged the new premier to also free his Hindraf colleagues - P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan and T Vasanthakumar - who are still incarcerated in Kamunting.“I appeal to the PM to release the other three Hindraf members soon. Set them free for they have suffered enough.”He stressed that the ISA should be abolished and all detainees set free.
According to Kenghadharan, he would return to his legal practise and continue his effort to “create a better Malaysia”.His wife, M Kalaiwany, had earlier gone to the Kamunting Detention Centre at 10.30am where an officer confirmed that Kenghadharan would be out soon. Kalaiwany said Kenghadharan emerged from the camp at 1.30pm, and they both return to Kuala Lumpur in two separate cars.On reaching the Subang Jaya toll booth, her husband’s car “suddenly disappeared” and she got a little worried.However, Kalaiwany later found out that Kenghaharan was driven to the police station to complete some paper work before he was escorted home by the police.It is learnt that the two detainees were released with a number of conditions.
Meanwhile, Ganabatirau was also mobbed by family members and well-wishers on returning to his home in Shah Alam this afternoon.
Former PM lauds move
On Friday, Najib in his first address to the nation as prime minister announced that the 13 ISA detainess would be released.
He also pledged to conduct a comprehensive review of the draconian legislation.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lauded his successor’s move to release the 13."It is good decision. A good move. I am sure the time has come for them to be released, so he released them," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Rights group have welcomed the move, but urged the government to free the remaining 27 people, mainly suspected Islamic militants, held under the ISA or charge them in court.
"There are people who have been held more than seven years without trial and most of them were facing the same kind of allegations as those who were released today," said Abolish ISA Movement spokesman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh.