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Indira: M'sian Hindu gets kids back

Contributed by Anonymous on Saturday, April 25 @ 09:29:40 CDT

The Straits Times, April 25, 2009
10 min-->
The case led to new Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration announcing that it would bar the conversion of children without both parents' consent. Amendments are expected to be made to the law, but no details were made available. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
KUALA LUMPUR ( Malaysia) - A MALAYSIAN Hindu woman who is fighting her husband's conversion of their three youngsters to Islam has regained custody of the children - a day after the government decided it would no longer allow disputed conversions of minors, a lawyer said on Saturday.

A high court in northern Perak state granted Indira Ghandhi custody of her children, aged between 1 and 12, on Friday, her lawyer M. Kulasegaran said. Ms Ghandhi's estranged husband, a recent Muslim convert, converted them to Islam and then got an Islamic court to give him custody earlier this month. The case caused a renewed outcry among Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other minorities, who complain their religious rights are under threat as courts rule in favour of Muslims, who make up 60 per cent of the population. This led new Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration on Thursday to announce it would bar the conversion of children without both parents' consent. Amendments are expected to be made to the law, but no details were made available. Besides custody, Ms Ghandhi also obtained an order to bar her husband, K. Pathmanathan, from entering her home and taking the children, Mr Kulasegaran said. He said the court would hear both sides' arguments over permanent custody on May 12. Ms Ghandhi, a 34-year-old ethnic Indian kindergarten teacher, also plans to seek a court declaration to invalidate the children's conversion. 'From what the mother has told me, she wants the children to be Hindus until they are 18,' Mr Kulasegaran, who is also an opposition lawmaker, said. In the past, non-Muslim parents have often failed to prevent their estranged spouses from converting their children to Islam. In the most high-profile case in 2007, a Hindu woman failed to persuade the civil court to bar her husband, who had embraced Islam, from converting their sons. Many of these cases also end up in Islamic courts, which typically rule in favour of Muslims. Malaysia has a two tier court system for family and civil matters - secular courts for non-Muslims and Islamic courts for Muslims. But it is unclear which court has jurisdiction in interfaith disputes, and when Islamic courts get the last word, non-Muslims feel they cannot get a fair hearing. --AP*****The Star
 Saturday April 25, 2009
Conversion case: Mum waiting for cops to get child from dad By CHRISTINA KOH
IPOH: Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi spent a sleepless night at the Ipoh police district headquarters, waiting for her baby to be returned to her. She has been there ever since the High Court here granted her interim custody of her three children and an injunction preventing her husband from entering their home. On Friday, Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim had also ordered the police to assist Indira Gandhi, 34, in carrying out the court orders. However Indira Gandhi, who claimed that her husband K. Patmanathan, 40, took away their youngest daughter three weeks ago, accused the police of being unhelpful. She said the police had asked her to locate her husband first before they would retrieve one-year-old Prasana Diksa who was supposedly taken from their First Garden house here on April 4. “I’m very disappointed with the way police assisted me in this case. If I could locate him, I definitely would have gone to take my baby and come straight home. “Otherwise what else are the police there for?” she asked reporters at the district police headquarters here Saturday. Indira Gandhi added that shortly after the court order was granted, her husband had contacted her at 8.30pm on Friday to say he was on his way to Singapore. She claimed that when she asked him to return her daughter, her had husband refused. His last known whereabouts was his mother’s house in Pasir Puteh here. “She is still breastfeeding and I have not breastfed my baby for the past one month. I don’t know what her well being is,” she said. Police officials refused to comment when approached, but Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran told reporters that police had agreed to set up a special unit to trace the husband. Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang called on the police to act swiftly in line with the recent Cabinet decision that children of divorced parents be brought up in the common religion at the time of marriage when one parent converts to another religion. When contacted, Perak CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah urged all parties to be fair to be police, adding that it was not true they were doing nothing. “My officers are helping the mother even now. We have to locate the baby and we are carrying out investigations. We will assist and enforce the court order,” he assured. The media, who were earlier warned against having press conferences within the premises, were later barred from entering the police station after the mother spoke to the press. Also present were the mother’s lawyers A. Sivanesan and Augustine Anthony, Parti Sosialis Malaysia central committee member Dr. D. Jeyakumar and Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism executive secretary Goh Keat Peng. The court order was Indira Gandhi’s first victory since her battle to have all her children returned to her and to ensure that they remained Hindus, and not Muslim converts. According to the supporting affidavit, the mother had discovered that her husband had converted to Islam on March 11 unknown to her and was now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah.



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