Kuala Lumpur, Feb 27 (IANS) Malaysian police Sunday arrested more than 100 members of a Hindu rights group for participating in an “illegal” rally here to protest against a controversial school textbook they say has elements derogatory to ethnic Indians.
Those arrested included eight women and belong to the Human Rights Party (HRP), an offshoot of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
City police chief Zulkifli Abdullah said police had to act to maintain order and security within the city, The Star reported on its website.
“It is regrettable but we had advised them multiple times not to go forward with it. It shows that they have no respect for the law,” he said at a press conference.
The Malay language novel “Interlok” has been criticised by the HRP, which says its text includes elements derogatory to Indians.
Of the 109 arrested, aged 18-66, eight are believed to be the leaders of the group.
Zulkifli said that the group which participated in Sunday’s illegal gathering to protest the “Interlok” issue were an isolated group.
The arrests were made as the protesters walked from the Rennaisance Hotel to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) in small groups.
HRP president P. Uthayakumar was arrested when leaving his residence at Pantai Hill Park here at 8 a.m. and taken to the Hang Tuah police station, the report said.
It is learnt that those arrested were taken to the Sentul police headquarters.
Earlier, a crowd had gathered in front of the hotel, preparing to march towards the KLCC.
Two men were initially arrested near the hotel as they walked towards the KLCC. The main crowd was contained by police at the hotel.
Meanwhile, about 100 people have gathered outside Sentul Police Headquarters in Jinjang saying that they intend to camp there until the arrested leaders, including Uthayakumar, are released.
Uthayakumar’s wife, S. Indradevi, is also among them.
Police declined to confirm or deny that the leaders were being held at the police station.