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Hockey snub to Malaysia for IT hurt

New Delhi, March 17: An Indian hockey team, scheduled to leave for Kuala Lumpur tonight, has called off its trip following instructions from South Block to stay away from Malaysia for the time being.

The 18-member team was to have participated in the prestigious Azlan Shah Cup, starting on March 22.

Although it is not being said officially, the decision to cancel the tour is an attempt on Delhi’s part to show its displeasure over the recent “inhuman treatment” of Indian information technology professionals by Malaysian police.

The Malaysian government has announced a probe but, so far, there has neither been any formal apology nor a plausible explanation as to what made the local authorities act in the way they did.

Around 270 computer professionals were taken into cu- stody on March 9 after a raid on an apartment block in a pre- dominantly ethnic Indian neighbourhood.

The Indian high commissioner in Malaysia held a series of meetings with senior leaders in Kuala Lumpur over the past few days to lodge a strong protest and get a better picture of why the IT professionals were handcuffed and treated like “common criminals” by the police.

The Malaysian minister for entrepreneurial development, Nazri Abdul Aziz, who was here last week, had described the episode as “most unfortunate” as he tried his best to assure the Indian leadership that the police action was not “deliberate”.

“It must have been done by overenthusiastic officers,” the minister had said in a bid to play down the incident.

What South Block mandarins are not convinced about is who asked the police to act in such an “over- enthusiastic” manner, as seldom anything happens in Kuala Lumpur without a nod from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.

Delhi finds it difficult to believe that 270 Indian infotech professionals were rounded up and 160 of them handcuffed and dragged to the police station without a nod from the highest level.

The cancellation of the hockey team’s trip may be India’s first step to mark its protest.

Its future action and relations with Malaysia would depend much on the explanation provided by the Mahathir Mohammed government and also on whether India accepts it.

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