An Indian trade body has called for its members to stop buying palm oil from Malaysia, as a sign of protest against Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's remark on the Jammu-Kashmir issue.

Atul Chaturvedi, the president of Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) of India, reportedly said in a statement on Monday: "In your own interest, as well as a mark of solidary with our nation, we should avoid purchases from Malaysia for the time being.

"We trust you would heed our advice. It would be in fitness of things, as responsible Indian vegetable oil industry, we avoid purchasing of palm oil from Malaysia till such time clarity on the way forward emerges from the Indian government," he was quoted saying by Bernama.

According to Chaturvedi further, the Indian government has not "taken kindly" to Mahathir's remark at the UN General Assembly last month that India had “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir and that New Delhi should work with Pakistan to resolve the issue.

This was in response to India's move in early August to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s legally autonomous status and impose many unprecedented security measures, including cutting off Internet and phone services, to prevent protests in the region.

India, the world's largest importer of edible oils, bought palm oil worth US$1.65 billion (RM6.9b) from Malaysia last year.

Last Friday, Reuters quoted a couple of Indian sources saying that India is looking for ways to limit palm oil imports and may place restrictions on other goods from Malaysia.

According to the sources, the restrictions are to send a strong signal of the Indian government's displeasure to Malaysian authorities.

India is planning to substitute Malaysian palm oil with supplies from countries like Indonesia, Argenina and Ukraine, the sources were reported adding.

Commenting on the matter, Mahathir said he has not received "anything official" from India on the matter.

Besides the tension around the Kashmir issue, the situation has also been tense between Malaysia and India pertaining to Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

India has asked Malaysia, where Naik holds a permanent resident status, to be extradited back to India to face alleged money laundering charges, but Malaysia has refused to do so.

Source: Bernama, The Star
Photo source: Astro Awani