Indira Gandhi pins hope of finding daughter on new govt

Ravin Palanisamy

Mother of three Indira Gandhi hopes Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's new government can end her 13 year ordeal of being separated from her daughter, Prasana Diksa. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 7, 2022.

A NEW government brings new hope. That is exactly what gives single mother M. Indira Gandhi the optimism that she would finally be reunited with her daughter, Prasana Diksa. 

Anwar Ibrahim would be the fifth prime minister to be appointed since Indira last saw Prasana who was just 11-months-old in 2010. 

Indira hoped the new administration led by Anwar would bring an end to her long-running ordeal, which has now dragged on for 13 years. 

“I’m really pinning my hopes high on this new government.”

“I hope Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is more sensitive to this issue since this is not something new. This case has been dragging on for years. I hope the government can find a solution and bring an end to this soon,” the mother of three told The Malaysian Insight. 

Indira has been fighting the system for 13 years to be reunited with her daughter, who was taken away from her by her ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

He converted Prasana and her older two siblings into Islam without Indira’s knowledge.

In 2018, in a landmark ruling, the Federal Court quashed the unilateral conversions of Indira’s children, Prasana and two older siblings.  

The apex court upheld the nullification of the religious conversions by only one parent and affirmed custody to the mother.  

The whereabouts of Riduan and Prasana are unknown.

Indira is now waiting for Riduan to be located and Prasana to be returned to her as ordered by the court.  

Riduan is now a fugitive for violating the Ipoh High Court’s order in 2014 to return Prasana, leading to a writ of mandamus by the court compelling the IGP to arrest him.

Indira stressed that the government should not see this as a racial or religious case but as an issue of maternal love.

Indira, who now works as a home-tutor, said the feeling of being separated from her daughter, without even knowing anything about her or her well-being, was unendurable. 

Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, Indira Gandhi's ex-husband is now a fugitive for violating the Ipoh High Court’s order in 2014 to return Prasana, leading to a writ of mandamus by the court compelling the IGP to arrest him. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 7, 2022.

“I just want to see my daughter and know how she is doing. I just want the well-being of my daughter to be taken care of. I will be happy then.”

“I think we have a very considerate prime minister now. So, I hope he understands what I’ve been through and what I’m still going through.”

“We know that he (Anwar) was also separated from his family at some point of his life.”

“So, I hope he understands the feelings of a mother who has been separated from her daughter for years, without even seeing her or knowing anything about her,” she said, referring to the years Anwar had spent in prison. 

Six IGPs have taken up the case but none have succeeded in finding Prasana and Riduan.  

Earlier this year, Federal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Abdul Jalil Hassan in a brief update said the people involved in the case are still being traced, adding that police will issue an update on the latest developments.  

Former IGP Abdul Hamid Bador had said the police knew of the whereabouts of Riduan and wanted him to come forward to settle the matter. Hamid said the police were working through an intermediary, but claimed that extraditing Riduan was complicated.

This led to Indira filing a suit against Hamid in 2020, alleging that the then IGP had deliberately and negligently disregarded a mandamus issued by the Federal Court, by failing to investigate or take appropriate action to return Prasana.

In September this year, the police issued another public call for information on the whereabouts of Riduan. 

Ipoh district police chief Yahaya Hassan said Riduan, 53, is still a wanted person and has a warrant of commitment issued against him by the Ipoh High Court on May 30, 2014.

Indira said she will ask her lawyers to arrange a meeting with newly-minted Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution to discuss the case and efforts in place to locate Prasana. 

Indira Gandhi Action Team chairman Arun Doraisamy confirmed the matter to The Malaysian Insight.

“Yes. We are working on arranging a meeting with the new Home Minister and hopefully it could be arranged soon,” he said. 

Despite Indira’s victories in court, decisions that had set precedence for similar conversion cases, Arun said Prasana continued to be denied a mother’s care and her right to grow up as a Hindu.  

Arun said the stalled Indira Gandhi Justice Walk is still part of their plans. He, however, said that the new dates could not be confirmed for the time being. 

Indira was to have embarked on a 12-day walk of 350km in November 2020 from Sungai Petani to Putrajaya, where she was to deliver letters to the prime minister as well as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.  

However, the plan was put on hold due to the pandemic. –  December 7, 2022.

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