By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By TMR
The public should not jump the gun and classify the ruckus at a temple in Subang Jaya early yesterday morning as racially motivated.
“Until the police investigations are completed, we can’t classify it as a racial riot,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy told a press conference in Parliament yesterday.
He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is aware of the melee that took place at Sri Mariamman Temple in USJ 25, Putra Heights.
The riot had caused concerns among the public and tension ran high as news of the early morning ruckus was widely shared on the Internet and social media. Pictures of burning cars and injured victims had been circulating on social media, fuelling speculations that the incident was racially motivated.
The police made several arrests over the incident and called for calm. It is believed the ruckus started with two groups of people clashing after trading insults and dares.
It is reported that 18 vehicles were torched and two people were hurt. The temple did not sustain any major damages.
Waytha Moorthy and other ministers including Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar and a dozen other lawmakers were present at the press conference.
Waytha Moorthy said the ministers condemned the attack on the temple and called for a thorough investigation.
“We call for a full and independent inquiry by the police to establish who is behind this serious attack on the temple and the motive behind it.
“This investigation should be conducted by Bukit Aman and not left to the Subang Jaya police to handle it,” he said, reading an official statement.
Waytha Moorthy said the report by the Subang Jaya police contingent that the riot was caused by two Indian groups was false and irres- ponsible as it had created tension among the Indian community.
“We call upon the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to ensure that a corrective statement is immediately issued to set the facts straight,” he said.
Waytha Moorthy also said investigations and disciplinary action should be taken against the Subang Jaya police due to its late and ineffective response towards the event.
“We were informed at about 2.30am yesterday that a large group of at least 50 people armed with iron rods and parang forcibly entered the Seafield temple and attacked a group of devotees who had gathered there including women.
“Now, questions are being raised as to why only a single patrol car from the Subang Jaya police force arrived at the scene at about 4:15am, while the Federal Reserve Unit only arrived at about 6am,” he said.
“A number of vehicles were also torched and it is learnt that during the violence, five devotees were held hostage for some time by the intruders,” said Waytha Moorthy.
According a local media, the controversial temple had been slated for relocation since 2007 after the land was purchased by One City Development Sdn Bhd.
In 2014, a consent judgement was entered in court, in which the developer and two groups vying for control over the temple agreed to relocate the temple, with One City also agreeing to donate RM1.5 million as part of the settlement.
However, devotees have continued to resist efforts to relocate the temple, which was reportedly built in 1891.