Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last 3 Hindraf leaders released

10 May, New Straits Times

TAIPING: The three remaining Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders were released from the Kamunting detention centre in here yesterday, after 514 days of incarceration under the Internal Security Act and about a month after their two fellow leaders were released.

Hindraf legal adviser P. Uthayakumar, who was the last to leave the centre at 2.55pm, said police wanted him to agree to a conditional release but he covered his ears, refusing to hear the conditions or to sign any document.

"Even if it means putting me back here, so be it... I'll come back here.

"But I will not agree to any conditions because I have not done anything wrong.

"I fought for the interest of the people through legal and peaceful means at all times," he said a few metres away from the gates of the detention centre.
Uthayakumar thanked his fiancee S. Indradevi, lawyers and supporters but said he would not thank the government as his detention was unlawful.

He also complained that the prison officials were rough with him, pointing to injuries on the left foot.

Uthayakumar said he would continue to fight for Hindraf but would have to consult supporters on whether to hold public gatherings.

Earlier, seven men, believed to be ISA detainees from Indonesia and the Philippines, were brought out from the detention centre in an immigration van at about 12.40pm, followed by three other local ISA detainees in a van at 1.20pm.

Two other Hindraf leaders, Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M. Manoharan and K. Vasantha Kumar, were also freed at 2.30pm, and were driven out in separate cars.

M. Manoharan was whisked away after his release.Upon his arrival in Klang, more than a hundred supporters of Manoharan, including his wife S. Pushpaneela, who waited outside the gates of the Klang district police station to welcome him, went home disappointed as he was whisked away via a rear exit.

Manoharan, who was scheduled to arrive at the police station at 3pm arrived only at 5.35pm escorted by two police cars.

The car went immediately into the police station compound and the gate was closed and was heavily guarded by more than 10 policemen to prevent supporters from entering the compound.

Pushpaneela arrived at 6pm followed by state executive councillors Ronnie Liu, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Teresa Kok and Klang member of parliament Charles Santiago.

At 6.45pm the supporters, including reporters and photographers who have been waiting since 3pm, were informed that Manoharan had already left half-an-hour earlier and was on his way to his home in Bandar Kinrara, Puchong.

Liu, who was the first state executive councillor to arrive was disappointed that Manoharan was not allowed to meet his supporters.

"This is not right. Manoharan is an elected representative and he should be allowed to at least meet his supporters for a short while," he said outside the police station.

Vasantha Kumar at home with his wife Vickneswary and daughters, Kayatirri, 7, and Vishaleny, 5, (right) yesterday.Vasantha Kumar's mother R. Manomani said her son's release was the best Mothers Day present.

She had waited outside the Kamunting Centre gate since 8am yesterday before, Vasantha Kumar, 36, was released.

"I am very happy today because my son is released and I am shedding tears of joy."

Manomani from Sungai Petani, Kedah, said she was informed of her son's release by her daughter-in-law, K. Vickneswary, on Friday night.

"I thank all Malaysians who fought for our release.

"It is by their effort that I'm a free man today," said Vasantha Kumar upon his arrival at his home in Taman Cheras Permai, Kuala Lumpur, at 6.25pm yesterday.

He was earlier taken to the Kajang police headquarters for documentation purposes.

At his house, he was greeted by some 40 people, including relatives, who chanted "Vasantha Kumar Valga" (Long live Vasantha Kumar).

The family then arranged a "cleansing" ceremony for him, by pouring a bucket of water filled with flower petals to ward off bad luck.

A while later, Vasantha Kumar spoke to the press through his wife, K. Vickneswary, 36, because one of the 15 conditions for his release from Kamunting prohibits him from making press statements.

"It is through all your (Malaysians') efforts that the government has released us. I will continue to provide a voice to the voiceless," the wife said on his behalf.

About 15 plainclothes policemen were also present.

The five Hindraf leaders, including V. Ganabatirau and R. Kenghadharan, who were released on April 5, were held since Dec 13, 2007 for being involved in protests which saw tens of thousands of Indians taking to the streets.

On Friday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced the release of the 13 detainees.

This is the second batch of ISA detainees to be released since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became prime minister.