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Hindraf gathering is illegal, gags Malaysian police

Last updated on: February 26, 2011 20:47 IST

The Malaysian police on Saturday said it would take legal action against anyone attending a gathering sponsored by outlawed ethnic Indian group Hindu Rights Action Force, which has called a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur to seek withdrawal of a novel from school curriculum.

The police had rejected an application by the Hindraf to hold the gathering on the grounds that it would jeopardise public order.

Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar said no permit had been issued for the gathering, and anyone attending it would be breaking the law.

The novel, 'Interlok' came under criticism following the education ministry's decision to use it as a literature text, with several academics and the Malaysian Indian Congress, the country's largest ethnic Indian political party, claiming that it contained words sensitive to the Indian community.

The use of the word 'pariah' in the novel has been objected to by the community members who feel it connotes caste system which they say is not found among ethnic Indians here.

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he had directed Ismail to personally monitor the situation and take firm action if Hindraf created trouble.

"He will be responsible for ensuring that the illegal organisation does not jeopardise the (security) situation," he told reporters.

However, the organisers who are connected to Hindraf, were expected to go ahead with the gathering, Star online said.

The gathering was to take place outside the iconic Petronas twin towers, once the tallest building in the world.

Ismail said such a gathering would adversely affect security and disrupt public order, especially if it were held at a place like the twin towers where many people converged during weekends.

Ismail said incitement and extremist demands could cause rifts among communities and arouse hatred for one another. He said there should be early education on the need for tolerance and mutual respect in building a nation.

According to the home minister, the organisers were trying to create an atmosphere that was being witnessed in the Middle East, but noted that Malaysia was a different situation altogether, and they were not getting the response they wanted.

"We know their intentions, we know that certain quarters are trying to bring about sentiments of the kind we see in the Middle East. But the situation here is different and it is not heading in that direction," he was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying.

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