Kuala Lumpur, Apr.18 : All that they wanted to do was to enjoy a holiday in Malaysia, but the three Indian nationals, on their first visit to this country, ended up being arrested and detained at the Semenyih Camp for 18 days.
What was most surprising was the fact that they all had valid travel documents.
Farmer K. Meenakshi, 52, tailor Sheikh Rajendran, 40, and carpenter P. Murugesan, 24, said they had been saving up for a long time to visit Malaysia, a country that they had heard so much about from friends who had been here.
All three were at the Selangor Mansion block of flats in Jalan Masjid India when the Rela, a group of armed volunteers that check out for illegal immigrants, raided the area on March 15, and arrested them.
"I was sleeping in a room when they came at 1.30am. I had a copy of the passport in my pocket and showed it to them. I kept telling them that the original was inside my bag, which was in the same room. But they did not understand me," Meenakshi told the New Straits Times.
Sheikh was together with him in the room when he was also arrested.
Murugesan said he had just finished eating and had gone downstairs to throw away the paper used to pack food when a Rela member stopped him.
"I told him my passport was upstairs, but he refused to let me get it or come with me to take it. He told me to wait with others and later took us to the camp in a lorry," said Murugesan.
They spent 18 days in the Semenyih Camp, which they described as the worst place that they had ever been.
"The conditions in the camp were bad. The food was terrible and I was so afraid to eat. I spent days not touching the food at all. It was not fit for human consumption," said Sheikh.
They were "rescued" when a Malaysian businessman, T. Kamalanathan, came to the camp and negotiated for their release.
He added that the Indian nationals should have been produced in court within 24 hours or even after the 14 days' remand. He claimed that the Immigration officers had also been unhelpful.
A bigger shock awaited the three men when they went back to the apartment on April 3 and found their belongings, flight tickets and money missing.