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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Punjab: armed Muslims rape a Christian, a "common practice"

by Jibran Khan - Asianews.it


A 32 year old woman and mother of five children was abducted and raped in turn by three men. Threats to the husband to force him to withdraw his complaint. Police officers covering the crime, drawing up a report full of holes. Priest in Lahore: Christian violence against women is widespread and scandalous.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The rape of Christian women in Punjab has become a "common practice" an "outrageous" phenomenon compounded by the fact that "the police protect the guilty" and not the victims. This is the bitter synopsis of Fr Jill John, of the Diocese of Lahore on the last recorded case of sexual violence against a Christian mother. The family calls for justice, but is struggling against a society in which the defenders of the law support the rapists. Even human rights groups like Masihi Life for All Foundation have intervened on the matter, asking government authorities to target the perpetrators of crimes and punish the corrupt and conniving police officers.

The incident dates back to Sept. 15, but the news filtered through only in recent days. Arifa Mushtaq (name changed for security reasons - ed) 32, mother of five was abducted and raped by three Muslims . Her husband Muashtaq Masih a worker at the Kasur sanitation department, in a devastated condition said, "Arifa use to work in a garment factory, on the y evening of 15 September she was coming home from work, she got off the bus, two local Muslims grabbed her from the back. Another armed accomplice came and put a gun on her head".

The woman began to scream, then asked the trio to leave her free to think their children who were waiting at home. Instead, the men took Arifa by force to a house and, one by one, they raped her. The family is in shock and even their attempt to report the rape has added insult to injury: the Muslims have threatened her husband, warning him to withdraw the lawsuit. Otherwise, his children will have to go through what his wife has gone through. The police has also protected the perpetrators, putting pressure on Muashtaq Masih.

Fr. Jill John confirms that "the police helps the guilty, with omissions and gaps in the compilation of complaints to favor their freedom." The family of the raped woman, added the priest, are now living in fear while criminals are free to roam the streets of the town. "How much longer - he asks – will we see the children of God suffer? And when will Mushtaq Masih's family get justice? ". He appealed to the police chief of Punjab and the Minister of Justice to target the corrupt police officers and protect the family.

Bersih's Ambiga receives top French award

Flag remark: Six months suspension for Manoharan

Pakatan to work out ‘hudud’ consensus next week

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is resolved to end the ongoing squabble over PAS’s hudud laws initiative during its leadership council meeting on Wednesday.

PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim agreed today that the pact’s three parties require a consensus over the sensitive issue, which has seen DAP and PAS at loggerheads on numerous occasions prior to the formalisation of the present coalition.

He told reporters at PKR’s open house here that the meeting was originally scheduled to discuss Budget 2012 to be tabled next month but the PR leadership had agreed to add the discussion on hudud to its agenda.

“This scheduled meeting is to discuss the budget, and also the issue made bigger by the media than it actually is,” he said, referring to the controversial war over Islamic law which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.

Anwar (picture), however, stressed that the issue was not a new one, saying that PAS had always been clear on its stand.

“The view of PAS is also not new... (But) there must be consensus in PR... This is what we will talk about,” he said.

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh, who has been openly critical of the plan to implement hudud laws, yesterday urged the PR leadership to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the matter.

“An emergency meeting must be held immediately to publicly clarify Pakatan’s stand on the issue and the controversy must end, once and for all,” he was quoted as saying on Bernama Online yesterday.

PAS has refused to back down from its plan, with its spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat reported to have said DAP may leave the coalition if it refused to support the measure.

Hudud is a prickly subject in multicultural Malaysia where race and religion are closely-linked.

The issue is raised cyclically as political fodder as its divisive nature often causes conflicts to occur within otherwise-friendly circles, making it ideal to pit parties with opposing ideologies against one another.

Anwar backs hudud in Kelantan, saying it does not infringe upon non-Muslims’ rights, further escalating the dispute.

The PR leader also moved yesterday to rebuke Nasional (BN) for purportedly exploiting hudud, or Islamic penal laws, to gain political support as national polls nears.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday pledged that his administration would block any attempt to implement the Islamic penal law, in a bid to curtail further debate on the fractious subject.

Najib’s deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, expressed support for hudud earlier this week, upsetting Umno’s Chinese partner, MCA.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has threatened pull his party out of the ruling coalition if senior ally, Umno, goes ahead with enforcing hudud. Gerakan has expressed the same threat.

“We have to acknowledge the fact that as a Muslim, we must support (hudud laws) one hundred per cent. That’s why I said I endorse that,” Anwar said.

“But when you ask what about federal level? There must be consensus.”

Najib goes pedalling for ‘votes’

The prime minister joins 20,000 cyclists for a charity ride but clearly he is wooing the Chinese community.
GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today took part in a charity bicycle ride despite undergoing a knee injury a month ago.

Accompanied by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Koh Tsu Koon, he and some 20,000 other cyclists pedalled for some 7km before returning to Straits Quay while the participants continued with their 17km-journey.

It may be a charity event but political observers did not miss the underlying message: it was all part of Najib’s charm campaign to woo back the Chinese community.

Earlier, Najib, the Barisan Nasional chairman, hailed the ethnic Malaysian Chinese community for its commitment to education.

He commended the Chinese for their determination and dedication to always improve the education standards and opportunities for their children, and efforts to raising funds for Chinese schools.

He was addressing a large crowd when launching the 1Malaysia Charity Ride For Education at Tanjung Tokong’s Penang Straits Quay here today.

Clearly, Najib is wooing the all-important Chinese votes for the next general election.

Some 70 to 80 percent of the ethnic Chinese, especially in Penang, are believed to be favouring Pakatan Rakyat over BN in the next general election.

Best start in life

Some 65 percent of registered voters in Penang are Chinese.

Local Chinese laymen claimed that the majority of the Chinese have more or less made up their minds on whom to vote for in the next polls.

But political analysts predicted that a swing of 20 percent of the Chinese votes to the BN could immeasurably help the coalition win many urban seats, especially in Penang.

His presence no doubt had helped the cycling event organiser – the state’s leading Chinese daily, Kwong Wah Yit Poh – to raise RM15 million for Chinese schools, to be shared equally among 15 schools, including five private institutions.

Najib later distributed the cheques to representatives from each school.

Also present were Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen, Kwong Wah Yit Poh chairman Ong Gim Huat, and state executive councillors.

Pointing out that the Chinese community was known for industriousness, hard work and thriftiness, he said it was time to add selflessness and dedication to learning.

“From pre-schools to schools, through to colleges and universities, we share your ambition that young Malaysians of all backgrounds should get the best start in life by studying and working hard,” he told the largely Chinese audience.

‘Fair to all Malaysians’

Najib reminded the Chinese community he was the only education minister who was bold enough to amend Section 21(2) of the Education Act to remove the power of the education minister to convert national-type schools to national schools.

“I did it when those before me did not,” he said, firing a broadside at Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was among Najib’s predecessor as education minister.

Najib assured that in future, schools would be judged on how well they educate their pupils, and not the structures that govern the schools.

He also said governing all Malaysians was never an easy task.

“It means listening to all Malaysians. It means making the right decisions for the future of the country.”
“I am always been fair to all Malaysians,” he added.

Chinese schools nationwide have some 56,000 Bumiputeras out of 612,000 students.

Najib said more Malays were now speaking Mandarin, including his son, which formed part of the transforming Malaysia to give the country a competitive edge as China consolidates its economic power.

He said the relationship with China would continue to change for the better, adding that all Malaysians should be proud of developing and strengthening ties with the giant neighbour.

Stressing that part of Malaysia’s future prosperity will be built upon ties with China, he said the country needed more Malaysians, from all backgrounds and heritage, to win businesses from China.

“Therefore, we need more Mandarin speakers to help us explore new frontiers in our dealings with China as a global economic superpower,” he said.

He said he shared the views of the ethnic Chinese community to have maximum opportunities to get access to university education.

“I believed that every Malaysian with talents and skills should be able to gain university education,” he said.

When ‘Hang Tuah’ became ‘Hang Jebat’


The Prime Minister’s campaign continued. He silenced the Rulers over the issue of the 1987 ISA detentions; staged a hostile debate on the monarchy in the 1990 Umno general assembly after the loss of Kelantan to PAS; removed the Rulers’ immunity to prosecution following the constitutional crisis of 1992-93; stripped away their flights, outriders, and special hospital wards; and in 1994, with little opposition, finally removed the need to obtain the Rulers’ assent for State laws.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin

The young should emulate Hang Tuah - Melaka CM
(Bernama) -- Youths should emulate the legendary Malay warrior Hang Tuah, who had a superior character and was loyal to king and country, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said last night.
He said that Hang Tuah was indomitable in defending the Melaka Sultanate from external attacks.
"His leadership qualities were pronounced because his knowledge covered religion and the art of silat," Mohd Ali said when opening the Hang Tuah Festival at the Malay Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum at Bandar Hilir here last night.
Also present were Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D'Cruz and Melaka State Assembly Speaker Datuk Othman Muhamad.
Mohd Ali said Hang Tuah used his mastery of several languages to help boost relations between Melaka and other states and territories.
************************************** 
Mahathir vs the Malay Rulers
By HUZIR SULAIMAN, The Star
In the concluding instalment of the three-part series, Ruling the Rulers, our columnist looks at the outcome of Dr Mahathir’s 1983 standoff with the Sultans.
BY October 1983, Malaysians were becoming aware that a constitutional crisis was in full swing. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 had been passed by both houses of Parliament, but the King, under pressure from his fellow rulers, was refusing to give his Royal Assent to it.
The bill would remove the need for the King to assent to legislation, and would similarly do away with the need for Sultans to assent to State laws. It would also take away the King's power to declare an Emergency and give it to the Prime Minister.
The Rulers publicly rejected these amendments after a meeting in Selangor on Nov 20, 1983. When the public became aware that a storm was brewing, Dr Mahathir’s administration initiated a propaganda war to put pressure on the Rulers.
There took place a “series of illegal public rallies held by Umno in Alor Star, Bagan Datoh, Seremban, Batu Pahat, Malacca, for the Prime Minister with reports of officially inflated crowd figures?.” as Lim Kit Siang would later describe them in the Dewan Rakyat.
These rallies, staged in order to generate sympathy for the Government’s cause, were illegal in the sense that police permits were neither sought nor granted.
Whether or not the crowd figures were inflated by the Umno-aligned media – it is true that they generally reported these events in positive terms – it is clear that the 1983 rallies were exciting evenings, with republican sentiments on everyone’s minds, if not exactly on their lips. One of the most arresting images in Rais Yatim’s Faces in the Corridor of Power is a photograph of two youths at one such rally. They are wearing T-shirts bearing Dr Mahathir’s picture and the words “DAULAT RAKYAT”.
Although the Prime Minister denied wanting to abolish the monarchy, at these rallies “the historical moment of unfolding Malay nationalism was relived as a continuing battle of Malay popular sovereignty against royal hegemony,” as Khoo Boo Teik writes in Paradoxes of Mahathirism.
At a rally in Alor Star on Nov 26, Dr Mahathir declared that “It was the rakyat who had protested against the Malayan Union after the Second World War; it was the rakyat who wanted a democratic system that would enable them to choose their own leaders. It was always the people who had fought for their destiny.”
At the largest rally, in Batu Pahat, Dr Mahathir told the crowds, in a thinly veiled dig at hereditary rulers, “We weren’t born Ministers ? We’re up here because we were chosen by all of you.”
The propaganda war continued, with tales of royal extravagance and impropriety emerging. The Government leaked the fact that they were compiling dossiers on the Sultans. RTM announced they were preparing a year-long TV series on the Rulers and the Constitution.
Yet pro-royal rallies took place too – especially in Kelantan and Terengganu, where Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was rumoured to be responsible for them – and they drew large crowds, although they went unreported by the media.
Upping the ante, the Umno Youth executive council called for the Government to gazette the Constitution (Amendment) Bill without waiting for the King's assent, effectively daring the Rulers to challenge it in court. Dr Mahathir did not immediately adopt this strategy, but held this “nuclear option” in reserve while behind-the-scenes negotiations continued with the Rulers.
Public opinion was divided over the issue. Rural Malays tended to support the Rulers; urban Malays, while not uncritical of Mahathir’s strategies and motives, were more ready to accept egalitarian ideas.
As for the Chinese community, R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy note in Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir that “One might have expected that, since the rulers and the Agung were symbols of ‘Malayness’ the Chinese would feel little loyalty to them. Paradoxically, they were quite pro-royalty, because they did not really trust Malay politicians. Indeed, they viewed the Agung and the rulers as protectors of their vital interests.”
There seemed to be no way out of the impasse except by compromise – which is what happened. The Rulers agreed to the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 1983 on the condition that many of its provisions were modified or repealed immediately with the introduction of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1984.
The new bill, passed in January 1984, meant that the King could now only delay a piece of non-money legislation for a month. It then had to be sent back to Parliament with his objections. If the King still opposed it in the form in which Parliament then passed it, he could only delay it for another month before it was gazetted as law.
The King could therefore only delay legislation for up to two months before it became the law of the land.
But this principle was no longer extended to the State level: Sultans still needed to assent to State bills before they became law, which was an important symbolic victory. Most importantly for those who feared Dr Mahathir’s supposed plan to concentrate power in his own hands, the bill removed the proposed ability of the Prime Minister to declare an Emergency by himself, and restored it to the King.
Nonetheless, Dr Mahathir saw himself as having won, declaring at a victory rally in Malacca that the feudal system had ended. He had brought his theatrical, confrontational, unapologetically antagonistic style to a high-stakes arena and had, by some accounts at least, triumphed over the Malay Rulers.
He quickly moved to consolidate his gains. Stories had been circulating that the head of the army, Jen Tan Sri Mohd Zain Hashim, was opposed to Mahathir’s approach and believed the armed force’s loyalty lay with the Rulers. Mohd Zain took early retirement. This was followed by a reorganisation of the army and some 500 other early retirements and dismissals.
When the independent-minded Sultan of Johor took over as Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1984, some feared (and some hoped) that royal activism would reassert itself.
As Roger Kershaw writes in Monarchy In South-East Asia: Faces of Tradition in Transition, “From the beginning, the Agong had made no secret of his contempt for Mahathir on the grounds of his mixed blood, calling him, to his face, ‘Mamak’ (a derogatory nickname for those of Indian Muslim ancestry). [?] But Dr Mahathir had proved more than a match for this difficult sovereign. Having got the measure of the King’s essential vanity and exhibitionism, he prudently pandered to it, even to the extent of placing a more convenient Royal Malaysian Airforce helicopter at his permanent disposal?.”
Through this and other measures, Dr Mahathir maintained good relations with the new King, enlisting him in his 1987 move against the judiciary, the effects of which are still felt today.
The Prime Minister’s campaign continued. He silenced the Rulers over the issue of the 1987 ISA detentions; staged a hostile debate on the monarchy in the 1990 Umno general assembly after the loss of Kelantan to PAS; removed the Rulers’ immunity to prosecution following the constitutional crisis of 1992-93; stripped away their flights, outriders, and special hospital wards; and in 1994, with little opposition, finally removed the need to obtain the Rulers’ assent for State laws.
Looking back, we can see how the bars of the yellow silk cage began to go up in 1983, closing in year after year.
Should we find it surprising, then, that after 25 years the tigers within should want to break free? Can we not understand that the Rulers might want to regain what has been lost?
And here is the hardest question of all: without giving up our democratic ideals, in a cynical and disloyal age, can we find a way to let our Rulers rule?
Huzir Sulaiman writes for theatre, film, television, and newspapers.



 

Religion vs Politics

By John Doe

Greetings. Firstly, I believe I owe some of you all an explanation for yesterday's "Top 10 Reasons why Hudud is good", it was an experiment done on MT readers as a means of a gauge on the MT populace. In line with the recently opened anonymity and the allowance of comments from unregistered commentators, I wondered what MT readers really felt in their hearts.
 
From a bird's eye view, it approximated what  was initially anticipated. I was however slightly disappointed that few had things of real substance to say, and of course, you had the occasional "Jar-Jar Binks" archetype who hopped around screaming for attention. What was worrying however, was the curiosity that why so few people openly condemned what  I stated. 

The list which I presented yesterday consisted of nothing more than the most often misquoted and abused texts of the Holy Quran. And surprisingly, they were not misquoted by non-Muslims, but by Muslims themselves. I even made a glaring mistake in naming the Sabbath as a Friday instead of a Saturday, and save one, no one else picked it up. I did deliberately pick on the Quran, as someone rightly pointed out, for this short "test" because of its relevance to Malaysia. Do feel free to watch footage on YouTube for the following.

I'll give you the brief run-down. Any NGO can confirm the following list.
Item 1 was the supposed justification of wife-beating. 
Item 2 was the supposed justification of amputations.
Item 3 was the supposed justification of multiple wives.
Item 4 was the supposed justification of marriage to under-aged girls
Item 5 was the supposed justification of Slavery from Prisoners of War.
Item 6 was the supposed justification of anti-semitism.
Item 7 was the supposed justification of marrying your daughter in-law.
Item 8 was the supposed justification of inequality of Gender
Item 9 was the supposed justification of inequality of the distribution of wealth
and item 10 is the most often used supposed justification of the annihilation of non-Muslims by Suicide Bombers.

None picked up on this. In fact, I was complaining to my friends, while watching some of the updates. I asked "Where are the fireworks? Where are the screams of my gross (and deliberate) misinterpretation?" I was actually pretty glad when someone actually challenged me to the justification of child-brides, and I was really hesitant to give my reply, pensive if I might give the game away. Be assured that my best intentions are for Malaysia. My only wish being that Malaysian would start to think for themselves. I received an email this morning asking if "I had sold my soul to the Devil" for writing such a piece. Rest assured that I have not. 

It makes me sad however, that Malaysians have been brought up to simply absorb, and absorb, and absorb whatever is taught to them, and regurgitate it during exams. There is never any desire to think out-of-the-box. Teachers tell you time and again to toe-the-line instead. This hinders personal thought, cripples creativity and retards growth. This method of learning merely makes one a foot soldier, suitable only for deployment as a faceless statistic. If you want to be a leader, then you need to stop being a foot soldier. On the flip-side however, UMNO loves to have such demure citizens. Ever looking up to them, ever willing to provide corruption money to them, and in a cruder way, ever-willing to "kiss and suck up" to anyone with a Title, be it earned or bought.

The whole point of the exercise yesterday was to show how easy it is to manipulate ANY Religion, by throwing in a few verses of scripture, and then use whatever "revelation" or "enlightenment" , thus allowing for pretty much ANY INTERPRETATION for WHATEVER intentions imaginable. Of course I am acutely aware of Catholic Priests and Imams who rape, Temple Priests who rob, and Monks who give themselves $5million loans. Point is they succeed not because their Religion is bad. These villains succeed because their "flock" is gullible. Please stop being gullible. I cannot say this enough times. Religions are so easy to manipulate given the correct opportunity, and "Holy-sounding words"  Please educate and equip yourself for your own good. I mean this in the most sincere way. Read, digest and learn your Holy Book often, and in a Language which you understand, so that you are not easily misled. In fact, I personally gain nothing if you succeed in this. My only reward being the slight satisfaction that I could help contribute towards a better Malaysia. A Malaysia which is free of tyranny. A truly free Malaysia.

It is now time the Rakyat took back this freedom. A freedom lost for exactly 500 years since 1511, when the Portuguese colonized Malaya. From a Merdeka which UMNO now claims never happened, and the Malaysia which helped them acquire the Colony States of Sabah and Sarawak. I look forward to this New Merdeka. 

True to my word, I, John Doe will never let Malaysians down.

What has happened to the rule of law?

— P. Ramakrishnan - The Malaysian Insider

SEPT 24 — We must not forget the larger issues involved in the case simply because the government had decided to get out of a messy situation for its own good.

The Barisan Nasional government created this untenable position that cannot be sustained by logic and facts. As a cover-up for its high-handedness, it is posturing itself as a generous institution that is capable of being considerate. The fact is it is trying to extricate itself from this unjustified and cruel action against these helpless people who only meant well.

It is unthinkable that people will be deluded by this gesture of the police. Malaysians are no more gullible or naïve to be easily fooled by such tokenism. The reprehensible conduct of the police cannot be condoned.

These 30 PSM members are innocent and not guilty of any offence by any stretch of the imagination under any Malaysian law. That was the reason why the police tried desperately to incriminate them by all sorts of ridiculous accusations:

• They were accused of carrying weapons in their buses on June 25, 2011.

• They were accused of possessing subversive material.

• They were accused of attempting to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

• They were accused of being a national threat.

The police invoked Section 122 of the Penal Code, Section 48 and Section 43 of the Societies Act, Section 29 (1) of the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance to build up a case that these are indeed dangerous criminals.

The police threw everything available at them in an attempt to crush them and frighten other Malaysians in an attempt to prevent them from joining the Bersih 2.0 Walk for Democracy.

They were incarcerated unjustly under intolerable conditions. On July 4 — after nine days of imprisonment — 24 of them were charged in court while the rest of the six were charged in court on August 3 after having been held for 28 days in solitary confinement.

The court imposed bail of RM8,000 each, which meant they had to scramble desperately to raise RM240,000 to seek their freedom — almost a quarter of a million ringgit! How could these poor people raise such a huge sum to post bail?

All this, however, failed to break the spirit of these 30 stalwarts; it failed to discourage outraged Malaysians from marching for democracy on July 9, 2011. If anything it only spurred Malaysians to discard their fear and stand up for their rights.

But the worrying thing about the whole episode involving these 30 Malaysians is the conduct of the police force. We are perturbed that the police can detain anyone under baseless charges with impunity. It looks that they can accuse anyone for whatever reason without a shred of evidence to back up their claim and detain them.

How could they accuse them of waging a war against the Agong, which is a serious criminal offence — Section 122 allows for 20 years or even life imprisonment — without an iota of incriminating evidence. This is clearly an abuse of their authority.

How could they accuse them of carrying weapons in their bus when no weapon was found in the bus?

How could they accuse them of possessing subversive material when this was not established?

How could they accuse them of being a national threat without proving the existence of such a threat?

Who cooked up these stories? Surely someone must be answerable. Who will be held accountable for this sordid affair? Shouldn’t the Inspector-General of Police who is the head of the police force be held accountable for this? Shouldn’t the Minister of Home Affairs be taken to task for this break-down in the rule of law?

Why didn’t the judge who is responsible for granting the remand order demand proof before granting such an order? Aren’t the fundamental rights and freedoms of a person his concern? Isn’t he the person who ensures that justice must be upheld and every person under the law is entitled to the protection of the law? Why did he fail miserably in his duty to uphold the constitution?

The rule of law should not become a myth in our country. The police must not be a law unto themselves. The rule of law must prevail at all times.

To prevent similar incidences from occurring in future we need to go deep into this episode and ferret out those who were callous in accusing innocent Malaysians without just cause. We need a Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine how and why the detention of the 30 PSM members took place.

We need to know what gives the police the authority to behave in the manner they have without being accountable for their action. We need to establish the fact that there is such a thing as Rule of Law in this country. — aliran.com

* P. Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

South Indian Temple E-Auctions Human Hair For RM90 Million

By P. Vijian

CHENNAI, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- Hair-raising sale. The world-famous Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara Temple in south India has auctioned human hair donated by devotees for a whopping RM90 million.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the temple's custodian, sold 466 tonnes of hair in its maiden e-auction last Thursday, where 49 bidders, including foreign buyers, joined in the bid, reported the Hindu newspaper.

Tipped to be one of the richest temples in the world, and perched on a hilly top in Andra Pradesh, the temple draws tens of millions of devotees and tourists annually.

Thousands of devotees tonsure their head as penance to Lord Venkateswara -- the presiding deity in the ancient temple.

According to local media, about 500 barbers deftly worked round-the-clock to tonsure devotees, including women and children, who travel to the hills on holy pilgrimage.

Daily, nearly one tonne of human hair is collected from 14 centres in the temple's sprawling complex and later sold to human hair traders. However, this was the first time it was sold on-line.

The flowing long, black and strong Indian hair is in great demand in the global fashion industry, in the production of wigs and artificial eyelashes.

India supplies nearly 30 per cent of world's human hair demand, second only to Brazil which dominates the industry with over 50 per cent.

China, the United States and United Kingdom are three major buyers of human hair.

Several injured in fracas at Mat Sabu ceramah

(Malaysiakini) Two PAS supporters were injured at a ceramah in Seremban last night after a protest held by members of Malay rights group Perkasa across the venue of the event turned rowdy.

perkasa protest in mat sabu seremban ceramah 250911 1It was a Hari Raya-cum ceramah session and was supposed to start at 9pm, but as early as 8.30pm, more than 100 Perkasa members were already at the side of the main road about 60 metres from the stage holding a noisy gathering. 

It was still calm when Mohamad Sabu - popularly known as 'Mat Sabu' (right, at podium) - started to deliver his ceramah around 10.15 pm.

The Perkasa members carried banners with slogans like “Mat Sabu Pembohong (Liar)”, “Mat Sabu Perosak Bangsa (Corrupter of the race)” and “Mat Sabu Hina Pejuang (Insults freedom fighters)”.

perkasa protest in mat sabu seremban ceramah 250911 2But when the Perkasa members attempted to move closer to the ceramah stage and were stopped by PAS supporters, then control - as well as stones and mineral water bottles - went up in the air.

Two PAS supporters were said to have been injured - one alleged he was punched by Perkasa members and another was spotted with an injury to his head from one of the stones thrown during the fracas.

A Unit Amal member alleged it was his men who were injured during the incident.

Guy injured during Mohd Sabu ceramah at SerembanPAS Seremban deputy chief Ghazali Mat Som - one of the event organisers - expressed his regret over the incident.

“One man was injured at his nose. Another man injured on his head. Two men were punched at the cheek and another man was hit by stone at his back.

“One of the Perkasa man wanted to submit a memorandum, but we did not agree and asked them to disperse.

“Then we informed the police. When the police asked them to disperse, they resist and then showed their uncouth (biadap) behavior. Only when the police sent for more people did they disperse.

“I urged the police to take a fair action and in future to take earlier action against this kind of situation.

“My men have already gone to the Rahang police station to lodge a report”, said Ghazali.
Perkasa man 'scalded'?

Meanwhile Negeri Sembilan Perkasa secretary Alias Mohamad, who was present during the protest, told Malaysiakini when contacted this morning said that the group's demonstration was not against PAS, but an expression of protest against Mat Sabu.

Fracas during Mohd Sabu ceramah at Seremban“He hurt the feeling of many army personnel.

“There many former army officers last night and they were disappointed with Mohamad Sabu's stubbornness and unwillingness to apologise for his statements.

“He martabatkan (dignified) the communists and the communist symbol,” said Alias.

When asked to comment on the injuries of the PAS activists, Alias said: “We just wanted to submit the protest memorandum and we were stopped by the PAS supporters. This resulted in a situation of panic. It should not have happened.

“But I heard that one of my men (also) was hit with hot water from an unknown individual,” Alias asserted.

About 800 people attended the ceramah that proceeded following the incident.