Singapore, Nov 25 (UNI) Malaysian police today fired tear gas on about 10,000 Indian ethnic protesters, agitating against alleged marginalisation of the community in the country.
The protestors were marching to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to present a petition and press for their 4 trillion dollar compensation claim for economic loss due to alleged discrimination in the country.
The protest was organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in the central business district of the Malaysian capital despite Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's call to stop it.
The protestors gathered at 6.30 am local time about 100 metres away from the British High Commission, according to a report by the Malaysian national news agency Bernama.
They wanted to hand over a petition on alleged marginalisation of the Indian community in the country.
Several roads to the High Commission were blocked since yesterday and as a precautionary measure, shop owners and restaurants did not open their businesses in the protest area today.
Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court had issued a restraining order last Thursday on five Hindraf leaders and their supporters against organising or participating in today's rally in the city.
The five leaders were P Uthayakumar, his younger brother Waythamoorthy, M Manoharan, VS Ganapathi Rao and R Kengadharan.
Lawyers Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy, also the chairman of the Hindraf, and Ganapathi have also been charged in the Klang Sessions Court under the Sedition Act for allegedly uttering seditious words in their speeches at a gathering in Kuala Selangor on November 16.
All three claimed trial to the charge, which carries three years jail term and 5,000 ringgit maximum fine, said the Bernama report.
The protest leaders filed a 4 trillion dollar claim law suit against the British government recently on grounds of being discriminated in their adopted country as the former colonial masters have brought their fore-fathers to work as labourers in the 1800s.
Malaysia has about two million Indian population, which is well represented in the ruling coalition government of Barisan National through the Malaysian Indian Congress party.