Monday November 26, 2007
Cops forced to use tear gas, water cannons
KUALA LUMPUR: The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) went ahead with their gathering here yesterday, defying a court order against the rally, and forcing the police to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
They called off their protest seven hours later without handing over their memorandum to the British High Commission after police broke up their illegal gathering.
Over 130 people were arrested during the incident, which saw thousands gathering at various locations along Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak.
The gathering was to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures collected by Hindraf to petition Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen's Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British Government for bringing Indians as labourers to the then Malaya and exploiting them.
The suit, filed at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by lawyer P. Waythamoorthy in August, seeks compensation of up to US$4 trillion (RM13.5 trillion).
People started gathering as early as 6am at various points along Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak. They had planned to proceed to the British High Commission.
They were however not permitted to proceed further than the Jalan Ampang-Jalan Tun Razak intersection where the police had sealed off the entrance to Jalan Ampang.
The crowd began gathering at the intersection and Jalan Tun Razak had to be closed to traffic.
At 7.20am, the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) used water cannons and tear gas when the crowd failed to disperse after being given warnings. Several people were also picked up by the police.
The protesters escaped to nearby alleys and regrouped at different locations. They were also met by the FRU.
The protesters dispersed at about 1pm after being told by one of Hindraf’s lawyers, A. Sivanesan, that the protest had been called off indefinitely.
For the entire duration of the demonstration, the Avenue K and City Square shopping complexes and restaurants along Jalan Ampang were closed.
Various hotels and Suria KLCC had strict security at their entrances.
Jalan Ampang was reopened after that and the KLCC and Ampang Park LRT stations, which were closed from 6am, were reopened at 3.13pm.
Sivanesan said the handing over of the memorandum was called off because police action prevented the group from reaching the British High Commission.
“Today’s event has shown unprecedented support. The other reason we are calling it off is because we fear for the safety of innocent people,” he said.
He criticised the police for using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The Bar Council also made an appearance at the protest by sending a 10-member team to observe the protest. Bar Council president, S. Ambiga, said a statement would be issued today.
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