Hindu Rights Action Force secretary T Vasanthakumar has denied that public funds collected by the movement have been misused by its legal adviser P Uthayakumar.
Vasanthakumar, who is being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), also denied lodging a police report to that effect at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak on Jan 10.
The five had responded immediately to the report with a statement issued through their lawyers, also denying that there was a split in their ranks.
“The report was lodged to place on record as to who holds all the money that was collected from the public. It was not an accusation of embezzlement against Uthayakumar,” said Vasanthakumar through a message carried by his wife K Vikneswary, 35.
She told Malaysiakini yesterday: “He told me that the report was made as an insurance policy to protect themselves against police claims that they are seeking funds from terrorist organisations.”
She said their plan was to make it clear that funds collected locally was not used for any alleged terrorism activities, but rather for the community activities.
“He was shocked by (the news report stating) that he had lodged a report against Uthayakumar. He wants to stress that he only named Uthayakumar in the report as a strategy for the five detainees not to be arrested and charged for funding alleged terrorism,” she said without elaborating.
“All five of them agreed that such a report was to be made and my husband was chosen to make it.
“He wants everyone to know that they are very united - there have been no open arguments as claimed in certain (text-messages). And that the report was made in consideration for their own safety in the future.”
Vasanthakumar, Uthayakumar and three other Hindraf leaders - M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan and V Ganabathirau - were detained on Dec 13 on grounds that they were a threat to national security. They are serving out a two-year detention order.
‘Not a cop’
Vikneswary further denied that her husband is a police Special Branch officer who has been tasked with undermining Hindraf, as alleged by some supporters after the news report was published.
“That’s not true at all. If he was a police (officer), he would not be in Kamunting. He quit his full-time job in the private sector to concentrate on Hindraf. He was truly passionate about helping the community,” she said.
She said that four of the Hindraf ISA detainees have started their hunger strike, with the exception of Uthayakumar.
“Uthayakumar is unwell and he has diabetes. The four managed to convince him that he should not be putting his health at risk by taking part in the hunger strike,” she said.
The five-day hunger strike began at 7.30am yesterday and will end at 7.00pm on Saturday.
Vikneswary revealed that her husband, too, is not in good health but has insisted on observing the fast.
“He is under tremendous pressure. I can see that he is being mentally tortured, but he is putting on a brave front. His friends there have also been a help to him,” she said.
A habeas corpus application is before the Kuala Lumpur High Court for the five detainees and is scheduled to be heard on Thursday.
“They are confident that the decision will be in their favour,” said Vikneswary.
Plea to the PM
Vikneswary also made an emotional plea to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release her husband.
“Please release him. He is not a criminal. He is not a terrorist. He was only involved in fighting for the (Indian Malaysian) community. I visited him last Sunday. He looked tired and unwell. I am worried for him. He is innocent,” she said.
“I hope the prime minister will show some mercy and release him. They must know that he is innocent. His detention has been a nightmare for me and our two daughters.”
She said the children - aged five and three respectively - miss their father and are longing to be with him.
“I can’t explain to them why he was detained. I have to lie to them that he is in hospital. But when we visited him on Sunday, my elder daughter wondered why there were policemen,” she said.
Vasanthakumar’s absence has also placed a huge burden on her finances.
"He was the main earner. With him not around, it is very difficult,” she said.
Vikneswary visits Vasanthakumar every Sunday and is disappointed that she can’t even offer him home-cooked food.
“They do not allow us to bring food for them. We can’t even have a private conversation as there is always someone there with him,” she added.
“I miss him. I am also emotionally affected. I need my husband. My daughters need their father. I hope the prime minister will release him and the other four Hindraf leaders as well.”