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Saturday, June 10, 2017

I was kept like a prisoner, says Indian politician

Veteran Tamil Nadu politician says he will write to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ban imposed by the Malaysian government against him.
V-Gopalasamy-imigresenGEORGE TOWN: An Indian politician, who was barred from entering the country yesterday after having arrived at the KLIA, has spoken up over the treatment he received from Malaysian officials.
V Gopalasamy, a popular politician in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, lamented the lack of common courtesy given him by Malaysian officials, but clarified that he was “not treated like a criminal”.
He was detained by immigration officers and taken in for questioning upon his arrival in Malaysia on a flight from Chennai, at 6.30am. He had travelled here with a valid visa issued by the Malaysian High Commission in India.
Gopalasamy, who is the founder of the MDMK party, told reporters that he was placed in a “storage-like” area and was confined there for many hours.
“They told me to sit in a baggage area. A lot of food courts there but they won’t let me go. I was kept in one place for 15 hours, from 6.30am till 9.30pm.
“They said my aide can buy food for me. But since I was kept like a prisoner, I didn’t feel like eating.
“I was not treated like a criminal but the common courtesies were lacking,” he told reporters after returning to Chennai yesterday.
News reports on some Tamil-language channels from India, broadcast on Astro, have also been covering this story, and Vaiko’s return to Chennai.
The 73-year-old veteran politician, who is better known as Vaiko, had arrived in KLIA, enroute to Penang, where he was to attend the wedding reception of Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy’s daughter.
Vaiko said several immigration officers at the airport were sympathetic towards him, telling him that they were just “following orders from the top, what can we do”.
Vaiko was given a heroes’ welcome as he landed at the Chennai International Airport last night after being deported from Malaysia.
He said he will write to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ban imposed by the Malaysian government against him.
“The Malaysian action was wrong, especially in view of good ties between both countries. The ban on me should be condemned.”
Blacklisted over LTTE ties
Vaiko also elaborated on the chain of events after he touched down early yesterday morning in KL. He was accompanied by his aide, Arunagiri, who was not barred from entry.
“As soon as I arrived at the immigration counter, they saw my name and said, ‘Vaiko, you are blacklisted’.
“I was surprised, I told them a Malaysian visa was already issued to me, how can I be blacklisted?
“They then asked me if I was a Tamil from Sri Lanka. I said no, I am an Indian citizen, I have also shown my Indian parliament ID as well.
“The officer then asked if I belonged to LTTE? ‘Are you LTTE member?’ I said I am an LTTE supporter, not a member.
“They told me I have ‘a lot of cases’ against me and so I was not allowed into Malaysia.
“I feel by blacklisting me, they have made me feel like a very important person,” Vaiko told a press conference attended by more than 20 media outlets in Tamil Nadu.
The LTTE, which is better known as Tamil Tigers, was the separatist group which was fighting the Sri Lankan government in a civil war which lasted for more than 30 years. They are now defunct with the Sri Lankan goverment having declared victory in the war, and ending all rebellion, in 2009.
Vaiko said he told immigration officers that he had visited Kuala Lumpur and Penang in 2014 without any problem, but the officer ignored his pleas.
Vaiko said he was thankful to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his deputy Ramasamy for their relentless help.
He said Lim had called up Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to allow him into Malaysia, but failed as I was “a security threat to the country”.
Vaiko said his passport was held by immigration authorities and was then given to the pilot of his flight home, under instruction to return it to him on board.
According to Vaiko, the source of his troubles is a former top Malaysian envoy to India, who had allegedly prepared a dossier of sorts, detailing his involvement with the LTTE.
He said the “folder” was then sent to all embassies around the world.
“I could not get a United States visa to see my daughter. They said I belonged to a banned organisation.
“I told the US I am a supporter, not a member. But they had a video showing me with LTTE leader Prabhakaran in LTTE uniform in 1989 for my protection then.
“But that was taken before LTTE was declared an illegal organisation,” Vaiko said.
He said he had asked for a referendum in Brussels, to ask Sri Lanka to be held answerable to charges of genocide.
Vaiko said he had said the same in 2014 during the International Tamil Conference in Penang.
“I think it (this ban) was due to what I said about criminalising the genocide in Sri Lanka,” Vaiko said. -FMT

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