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Visa cuffs on shopper techie

Kuala Lumpur, May 20 (AP): The Indian embassy protested to the Malaysian government after an Indian software professional was handcuffed and briefly detained by police for not carrying his passport while shopping, an official said today.

This is the second time in a week that an Indian has been detained for passport violation, and the Indian government has asked the Malaysian foreign ministry to ensure that such incidents do not happen again, said an embassy official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

He said Vijay Kumar Varadan and a colleague were stopped yesterday by police in civilian clothes when they got off a commuter train in a shopping district and were asked for identification.

Varadan, who had a photocopy of his passport, was handcuffed and taken to a police station for questioning, while his colleague was allowed to go because he had his passport, said the official.

“We immediately took up the issue with the Malaysian foreign office and are following it up today,” the official said.

“We have requested the Malaysian authorities to ensure that such incidents do not take place again,” he said.

Foreigners are required to carry passports in Malaysia at all times, but those detained for flouting the little-known rule are usually Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

The rule is enforced as part of efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Foreigners say they do not carry passports because of the high rate of street crime and mugging in Kuala Lumpur, and instead keep photocopies of their travel documents.

The Indian official said Varadan, who works for the local branch of India’s leading software company Tata Consultancy Services, has been in Kuala Lumpur since March, working on a project for Standard Chartered Bank.

He was released after about four hours when his employers produced his passport.

Police officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

On Monday, Malaysian volunteer security corps briefly detained an Indian film producer, Sanjiv Mishra, during a routine check for illegal immigrants, because he did not have his passport with him.

Tourism minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor apologised for the incident, saying the wrongful detention had shocked him.

Earlier this year, the Indian ambassador’s cook was similarly detained despite having a photocopy of his passport and a letter by the Malaysian government identifying him as an embassy official.

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