India to take up issue of ethnic Indians with Malaysia


New Delhi : India Friday said it is concerned about the crackdown on peaceful protests by ethnic Indians in Malaysia and will take up the issue with the country’s government.

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“Whenever Indian citizens abroad or people of Indian origin are adversely affected, it’s a cause of concern,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters at a joint press conference with leaders of the European Union.

He was replying to a question on whether his government was planning to take up the issue of alleged victimisation of peaceful protesters with the Malaysian government.

“This is matter which does concern us,” he said.

The prime minister refused to comment any further as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was making a statement on the issue in parliament.

“I am in touch with the Malaysian government. We are going to take up the issue with them,” Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha in response to a question on the issue.

At least 80 ethnic Indians were charged in Malaysia early this week for taking part in a rally to demand equal rights in the Muslim-majority country. About 10,000 minority ethnic Indians took out a rally in Kuala Lumpur police last Sunday.

The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters. Around 250 people were arrested and three protest organizers were charged with sedition.

Indians comprise eight percent of Malaysia’s population of 27 million. They allege that an affirmative action policy favours Malays in government jobs.