IPOH, Nov 10 ― It will be a quiet Deepavali celebration for M. Indira Gandhi this year.
Indira has been in the news since a bitter custody battle with estranged husband K. Pathmanathan (now known as Muhammad Riduan Abdullah) for their children.
Her wish remains the same year after year ― to be able to see her youngest daughter M. Prasana Diksa who Muhammad Riduan took.
Despite being granted custody by the Ipoh High Court for her three children in 2010, Indira is still waiting for Prasana to be returned to her.
“I hope to be able to see her before I die,” she said as tears rolled down her face.
This year, she said her two other children, both in Selangor, were unable to return home due to the implementation of the conditional movement control order (CMCO).
While she had written a letter to the police appealing for her children to be given the leeway to come home, deep down Indira was not confident her appeal would be entertained.
“This year, my mother and I will be couch potatoes at home and eating whatever my mother cooks.”
“Due to CMCO, we will not be visiting anyone except for my sister who stays nearby,” she said, adding that Deepavali is one of the rare occasions her 77-year-old mother S. Renggamah cooks.
Speaking to Malay Mail when met at her Taman Rishah home, Indira said she would be praying at home this Saturday.
“No point for us to go to the temple too as the number of worshippers allowed to enter will be limited,” she said.
Indira, who works as a private tutor, said it had been nearly 12 years since Prasana was taken.
“I have yet to walk out from the pain.”
Knowing the odds are stacked against her, Indira, who had recently filed a RM100 million suit against the IGP for failure to get Prasana back, Indira still harbours hope to see her.
“It will be nice if I can hear her voice for a start. If I am able to see her in person, I want to take it slow as it may be traumatic for her,” she said, adding that Prasana deserves to know she has a biological mother and two siblings.
Looking forward, Indira has taken to baking to earn extra income.
“I started selling cookies this Deepavali and thankfully, the response has been good.”
On April 2, 2009, Pathmanathan ― now known as Muhammad Riduan ― covertly converted the couple’s three children to Islam without their knowledge and Indira’s consent, before going to the Shariah court just a few days later to obtain custody rights for them and absconded with Prasana.
After a protracted court battle, the Federal Court ruled in January 2018 that the unilateral conversions of Indira’s children were unlawful.
However, the police have yet to recover Prasana and return her to Indira despite the decision and a previous mandamus order she secured compelling the IGP to execute the recovery.
In August, IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said that the police were looking for an amicable solution where both Indira and her ex-husband will get the benefit of “some form of joint custody”.
He also confirmed that Muhammad Riduan was living abroad to avoid detection, and efforts are ongoing with the help of several senior state politicians to convince him to return.