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Malaysian torment for Indian techies

Kuala Lumpur, March 9 (PTI): Malaysian police today rounded up around 270 Indians, including many IT professionals, allegedly defaced their passports and slapped and kicked many of them before releasing all but five.

The police carried out a dawn swoop in search of illegal immigrants in an apartment highrise in the ethnic Indian-dominated neighbourhood of Brickfields, central Kuala Lumpur.

“There were around 270 of us, and we have already got the signatures of 178, and we’ll get the rest by tomorrow,” said Dilip, an IT professional who presented a petition to the Indian High Commission on behalf of all those detained, after being released tonight.

A Malaysian police officer said some 164 Indians had been picked up after the raid on a building. They were released, he said, on the intervention of the high commission and the proof they had valid visas.

The officer said some showed they were working for companies registered in Malaysia’s multimedia super corridor, the information technology project zone running from Kuala Lumpur to the new development of Cyberjaya, 45 minutes’ drive away.

“This has been a black day for all of us,” Indian high commissioner Veena Sikri said, addressing the detainees after their release. “We have taken the matter to the highest authority, and we will get to the bottom of the issue.”

The police initially denied Indian officials access to the detained Indians, but relented later. Several of the detainees showed PTI their passports, pointing out their visas had been scratched.

A Malaysian immigration official, who verified the defaced visas, said the individuals and their employers would have to apply to his department for fresh visas.

The detainees recounted how the police burst into their homes and herded them to a nearby police station, from where some were taken to jail.

“We were handcuffed and made to kneel or sit in the police station car park. Some of us were slapped and kicked,” said Nagaraju Cheekoti, an IT professional working for WWI Malaysia.

Some said they were ordered to do sit-ups and others said they were stripped to their underwear, slapped and kicked inside the station. The police confiscated their cellphones and refused to give them access to telephones. Police officials at the Brickfields station refused to speak.

“We don’t want to stay in this country if we are treated like this. We have come here at the invitation of Malaysian companies,” said one of the detainees to a chorus of approval from the others. “We don’t feel safe,” he said.

Most detainees were men from Andhra Pradesh. A couple of women, too, were taken into custody but were not handcuffed. A group of detainees said they were visiting friends in Kuala Lumpur, after making the short trip from nearby Singapore.

Last year, Malaysia had deported several thousand illegal immigrants, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

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