Update: The chairman of the Save Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple task force, S. Ramaji, has come forward and said that the men who attacked the 147-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman temple in USJ25, Putra Heights before dawn on Monday, November 26, were in a state that was ‘trance-like.’
TEMPLE riots have reared its ugly head in the most urban Indian township of Selangor, Malaysia, where a scuffle between two rival groups triggered an all-out riot at the site of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple at USJ 25, Putra Heights, early Monday.
Up to 18 vehicles in the vicinity were set alight by dozens of brawlers in the 2.00am incident.
A Selangor Fire and Rescue spokesperson said they received an emergency call on the disturbance at 4.38am, and six personnel from the Subang Jaya station were deployed in one fire engine to the scene.
“When we arrived at the location, we noticed two vehicles ablaze on the side of the road, said the spokesman. “We attempted to douse the flames, but were prevented from doing so by the rioters. (So) we decided to await further instructions from the police, who were already at the scene.”
He added that of the 18 vehicles set on fire, two were cars parked by the side of the road, 16 were cars parked at the temple, and two were motorcycles.
“No one was injured in the incident,” he said.
Police are immediately investigating the cause of the riots. But racial tension, which is a provocative issue in Malaysia, has been ruled out.
The fight between two groups was sparked by a disagreement over the relocation of the temple, said the Subang Jaya police in a Facebook post.
HOT-BED OF CONTROVERSY
The temple has been a hot-bed in recent months over controversial location issues with One City Development Sdn Bhd, owner of the land of the Sri Mariamman Temple. It comes after protests by devotees of the temple following a court order.
The Star newspaper quoted One City development director Yaw Sheng Fung as saying they have delayed relocation exercise to the end of the month as a “gesture of goodwill and without prejudice to One City’s rights as the landowner”.
“However, the rule of law needs to be respected and fulfilled. All parties have to adhere to the court order to, firstly, for One City to take possession of its land in USJ 25 where the temple sits on, and secondly, to allow the temple to be relocated to the USJ 23 land as agreed earlier by all parties,” Mr Yaw was quoted as saying.
“As a responsible developer, we have listened to and met the demands of the Hindu devotees through the lawful temple management committee.”
Mr Yaw said that a 0.4ha piece of land in USJ 23 and RM2.5mil for construction of the new temple had been allocated.
Urging all parties to comply with the court order, the developer wants the relocation to be carried out peacefully.
The Star also reported that last month there was a six-hour standoff between police officers and temple devotees where the devotees shielded the central diety while others stood guard. There was also a prolonged hunger strike by some devotees.
Sungai Buloh Member of Parliament R. Sivarasa intervened and later arranged an amicable meeting with all parties with the Selangor Mentri Besar Amiruddin Shaari.
Journalist Alfred Dass from Kuala Lumpur says many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege a “systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia”.
He says: “The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built illegally. However, several of the temples are centuries old.”
According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.