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270 Indians rounded up, released
by Malaysian police
Vandana Saxena in Kuala Lumpur |
March 09, 2003 23:33 IST
The Malaysian police on Sunday rounded up around 270 Indians, including many IT professionals, and allegedly defaced their passports, slapped and kicked several of them before releasing all but five later.
This was the outcome of a dawn swoop in search of illegal immigrants on one high-rise apartment in the ethnic Indian dominated Brickfields neighbourhood in central Kuala Lumpur.
"There were around 270 of us, and we have already got the signatures of 178, and we'll get the rest by Monday," said Dilip, an IT professional, who presented a petition to the Indian High Commission on behalf of all those detained after being released on Sunday night.
A Malaysian police officer had earlier told PTI that some 164 Indians had been picked up during a raid on one building adding they were released following the intervention of the Indian High Commission and proof that they had valid visas.
Some showed they were working for companies registered in Malaysia's Multi-media Super Corridor, the Information Technology project zone running from Kuala Lumpur to the new development of Cyberjaya, some 45 minutes' drive away, he said.
"This has been a black day for all of us," Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri said addressing the detainees after their release.
"We have taken the matter to the highest authority, and we will get to the bottom of the issue."
Police initially denied Indian officials access to the detained Indian nationals, but later relented.
Several Indians taken into custody showed PTI their passports, pointing out that their visas had been scratched.
A Malaysian immigration official, who verified the defaced visas, said the individuals and their employers would have to apply to his department for a fresh visa.
The detainees recounted how police burst into their homes and herded them to a nearby police station, from where some were taken to jail.
"We were handcuffed and made to kneel or sit in the police station car park, some of us were slapped and kicked," said Nagaraju Cheekoti, an IT professional working for WWI Malaysia.
Some said they were ordered to do sit-ups, while others said they were stripped to their underwear, slapped and kicked inside the station. Police confiscated their cell phones and refused them access to telephones.
Police officials at the Brickfields station refused to speak to PTI.
"We don't want to stay in this country if we are treated like this. We have come here at the invitation of Malaysian companies," said one of the detainees to a chorus of approval from other detainees. "We don't feel safe," he said.
Most of the detainees were men from Andhra Pradesh. A couple of women were also taken into custody, but were not handcuffed.
One group said they were just visiting friends in Kuala Lumpur, after making the short trip from next-door Singapore.
Last year, Malaysia had deported several thousand illegal immigrants, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia.
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