Most ethnic Indians held for ''illegal'' rally released

Jaishree BalasubramanianKuala Lumpur, Feb 27 (PTI) Most of the activists of abanned outfit of ethnic Indians, who were arrested today fortaking out an "illegal" rally against the introduction of acontroversial book in school curriculum in Malaysia, werereleased by the authorities.

Police had arrested 109 protesters, believed to bemembers of the Hindu Rights Party (HRP) -- an offshoot of theoutlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) -- for protestingagainst introduction of the Malay language novel ''Interlok'' inthe senior school curriculum.

Police released 101 protesters while eight others,including P Uttayakumar who heads the HRP, were still beinginvestigated.

"They will be freed once the investigations arecompleted," police said in a statement here.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said thepolice had the right to arrest several leaders of the HumanRights Party (HRP) as they had organised an illegal gathering.

He said those who were arrested had violated the law.

"We do not want to be hard on them but they are hopingthat the police will use violence against them and when thathappens, it will be good stuff for the international media toexploit. Their intention is to paint a bad image for thecountry," Najib said.

The group can always submit their memorandum or meethim to settle any problem without resorting to illegaldemonstration, he added.

The protesters, mostly ethnic Indians, were againstthe introduction of the Malay language novel ''Interlok'' in thesenior school curriculum.

A section of the minority community, including theMalaysian Indian Congress (MIC) -- the country''s largestethnic Indian political party, believes the book containsoffensive words like ''pariah'' which they say connotes a castesystem that they claim does not exist in this country.

The protest came despite the government''s assurancethat the book would be introduced in the curriculum only afteramendments were made.

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