Riots ensued early Monday morning over the relocation of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. The 127 year old temple was supposed to have been relocated from USJ 25 to USJ 23. The violence erupted as a result of the scuffle between two rival groups.
According to devotees present at the temple, a group of masked men came into the temple compound in the wee hours of the morning, and even blocked the ratham from leaving the temple. This enraged the devotees.
18 vehicles were set ablaze by dozens of brawlers at 2am yesterday. The violence continued today, with an additional 5 cars being torched.
Last night, the firefighters who made their way through the crowd to douse the flames were stopped by the rioters. Fire and Rescue Department medical personnel Muhammad Adib Muhammad Kassim was pulled out of the fire engine and beaten up. The 24 year old was then rushed to a nearby hospital. Muhammad Adib suffered major internal injuries and bone fractures is currently in critical condition and on life support.
The developers, One City Development Berhad have strongly denied allegations that they are the masterminds behind the riots. However, it is interesting to note that least three of the developer’s employees were among those remanded over the first night of violent clashes.
All quarters have condemned the riots, with politicians and senior police officers stressing that the motive is not racially charged, but that of a land dispute.
The number of people arrested has increased to 21, according to Selangor police chief Mazlan Mansor. So far, a whopping total of 23 vehicles were torched and two emergency medical response vans and one fire engine were damaged in the riots. The rioters have also vandalized the office of the developer, located in One City Mall.
The Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir said that the temple riots indicate the presence of criminal elements, and those behind it would be brought to justice. “The criminals who tried to create disturbances and injured our security and rescue personnel, as well as damaged public property, will face stern action according to the law,” he assured. The Prime Minister also added that the puppet masters behind the fracas will not escape.
Tonight, the police force has increased the number of Federal Reserve Units present at the location, and are hopeful that it will go without incident. The public has been urged to stay calm and not cause unnecessary hurt and damage. Those with any information can contact the Selangor police hotline at 012-600999.