PETALING JAYA: The long-standing dispute on the relocation of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple at USJ 25, Subang Jaya escalated to violence early today when more than 100 armed thugs barged into the temple premises and went on the offensive against a small group of devotees guarding the place – leaving at least a dozen people seriously injured.
The large group of attackers who were armed with machetes, sticks and other sharp weapons had shown up unwarned at about 2.30am before holding up a temple priest and about a dozen devotees.
They also smashed and damaged the temple structure, statues of deities and pelted stones at the temple.
Word of the intrusion spread like wildfire in the social media and amongst other temple devotees – triggering retaliation from more than 150 of them including women who started showing up at the 147-year-old temple over the next hour.
The arriving devotees and their supporters were further angered when they found the gates to the temple locked with the assailants inside – holding the temple priest and other devotees at knife-point.
Pandemonium broke out when a few supporters jumped over the temple gate and fence while the rest broke down the gate and charged towards the thugs.
It was a violent clash over the next hour with both groups attacking each other with sticks and sharp weapons.
Witnesses said dozens of the thugs on seeing the group of devotees grow ran helter-skelter in the vicinity in a bid to escape from the scene.
Police patrol cars arrived within minutes but the outnumbered personnel were helpless in the tumult and radioed for reinforcement.
It is learnt that more than 12 people from both groups suffered serious injuries.
A few were seen lying on the ground covered in blood and guarded by a group of policemen.
Three cars that were parked adjacent to the temple along a highway were also torched in the melee.
From 3.30am onwards as both clashing parties spewed profanities and challenged each other to a fight, a large number of police personnel including members of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Subang Jaya police chief ACP Azlin Sadari arrived the scene and brought the situation under control.
It is learnt that an undisclosed number of those involved in the clash were also arrested by police.
The Fire and Rescue Department was also called in to put out the vehicle fire.
“They placed a parang on my neck and that of other devotees. How could they do this in a place of worship.” screamed a female devotee at outside the temple compound.
Azlin said that a misunderstanding between two groups on the relocation had led to the incident.
He said order resumed at the area after police arrived.
Azlin said police will carry out its duties in accordance with the law to ensure public order and safety prevails during the temple relocation.
As of 6.30am, the atmosphere at the vicinity was calm with police personnel keeping guard.
More supporters and devotees of the temple continued to throng the temple and remained in the premises.
A few also made speeches condemning the attack and pledged to preserve the temple from demolition.
They also took a swipe at the government for failing to protect the interests of the temple devotees.
Over the past two months, a dispute on the relocation of the temple had intensified when the owner of the temple grounds – developer One City Development Sdn Bhd (OCD) had sought to take possession of the place with a court order.
OCD had compensated the management of the temple and offered to relocate and rebuild the temple on a plot of land about three kilometres from its present location.
However, this was objected by the management and temple devotees and several attempts by OCD to occupy the land since Oct was met with massive resistance and scuffles at the place.
Since early this month, a group of devotees have been taking turns to keep watch of the temple and to deter any demolition attempt by the landowners.
According to a devotee, there were more supporters who kept guard of the temple yesterday after there were rumours that demolition team had planned to clear the land at about 4am today.
He said the least he expected was a big group of armed thugs to turn up and lay siege at the place.
However, most of the supporters agreed that the attack was not racially motivated but was related to the dispute between the temple management and the land owner.
Source from: The Sun/Youtube