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Indian stand on Hindraf praised

Malaysian PM AA Badawi says he appreciates the Indian Govt's decision to shun a visiting leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force.

world Updated: Dec 11, 2007 04:53 IST

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says he appreciates the Indian government's decision to shun a visiting leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

"I appreciate it," Badawi was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper on Monday. "We have a good, firm relationship with India, a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding," he said. "Any issue that crops up should be solved within the country itself, based on its own laws," he said.

None in the Indian government met Hindraf leader P Waytha Moorthy last week. Moorthy, who blamed the Indian bureaucracy, however met leaders of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including LK Advani.

Moorthy claimed that the BJP had agreed to lobby with the government to take a supportive view of the group that claims to speak for the two million plus Tamils in Malaysia. He also met Tamil leaders in Chennai, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

The Malaysian government had reacted strongly to initial comments by Karunanidhi as well as concern by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and accused India of trying to meddle in Malaysia's internal affairs.

On being told by Kuala Lumpur of Hindraf's suspected terror links, Mukherjee subsequently said: "A terrorist is a terrorist... he has no religion, no nationality." However, Hindraf has denied having links with any terrorist organisation.

The group's legal adviser P Uthayakumar Sunday said the claims were a ploy to prevent Hindraf from seeking help from foreign governments and NGOs. "It is the government's plot to stop us from getting foreign help. There is no truth in it. These are lies to prevent us from getting foreign attention," The New Straits Times quoted Uthayakumar as saying.

Hindraf courted controversy after a rally it staged on Nov 25 to voice the grievances of people of Tamil origin in Malaysia. The rally was declared illegal and forcibly dispersed. Thirty-one people associated with the rally have been denied bail and are being persecuted on charges ranging from disturbing peace to attacking a policeman on duty with intent to murder.

Hindraf leaders are being described by the media here as extremists, and the government is probing their suspected links with terror groups, particularly the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).