Saturday, December 01, 2007

From The Front Page of The Hindu: Manmohan Singh Expresses Concern For HINDRAF Rally

The PM finally speaks. The Indian one. Not the sleepy one. Yet another frontpage from The Hindu since yesterday.

Manmohan voices concern over unrest in Malaysia
Special Correspondent

Government in touch with Kuala Lumpur, says Pranab Mukherjee

DMK members protest against Malaysian Minister’s comments against Karunanidhi

Vijay Kumar Malhotra (BJP) supports

DMK members

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said it was in touch with Malaysia on the alleged harassment of people of Indian origin in that country and the observations by a Malaysian Minister against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Making a suo motu statement in both Houses of Parliament, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India was in touch with the Malaysian authorities on the alleged harassment of the participants of a rally, organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force in Kuala Lumpur on November 25, and related matters.

On the sidelines of the India-European Union Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too voiced concern over the issue. “This is a matter which concerns us. Whenever people of India run into difficulties, it is a source of concern,” he told reporters when asked to comment on the matter. However, he refused to say anything more.

In Parliament, Mr. Mukherjee said: “The government remains deeply solicitous for the welfare of people of Indian origin living abroad. There is a large community of people of Indian origin in Malaysia, who are citizens of that country. We have friendly relations with Malaysia and we are in touch with the authorities there on the related matter.”

With Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members in the Lok Sabha protesting against the absence of any mention of the Malaysian Minister’s comments against Mr. Karunanidhi, Mr. Mukherjee sought to point out that his statement mentioned “related matters” and that included the observations against “a highly respected Indian leader, Dr. Karunanidhi.”

Mr. Mukherjee said; “We are in touch with the Malaysian authorities and the matter is being taken up,” he said.

Earlier, the matter was raised in the House at the start of question hour by Tamil Nadu members, who found support in Vijay Kumar Malhotra (Bharatiya Janata Party).

However, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi stating that the External Affairs Minister would make a statement later in the day, the members settled down to business.

For the second day in a row, the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha also with the focus on the Malaysian Minister’s comments against Mr. Karunanidhi. Raising the issue, R. Shunmugasundaram (DMK) questioned the Minister’s right to comment on a letter sent by a Chief Minister to the Prime minister. “We cannot lose our self-respect to continue to have friendly relations with another country.”

S. S. Ahluwalia (BJP) demanded that the Malaysian High Commissioner be summoned and reprimanded. Other members joined the DMK and BJP leaders in protesting against the government’s continued silence on the issue.

Intervening, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri said the government was in touch with the Malaysian authorities.

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