Clashes Erupt in Malaysia Over Attempts to Relocate Hindu Temple, 21 Arrested

Malaysian authorities said on Nov.27 that 21 people have been arrested in connection with scuffles.


Malaysian authorities have arrested 21 people in connection with riots-like situation after clashes erupted over the attempts to relocate a Hindu temple.

According to a report by the Associated Press, a group of men entered the Sri Maha Mariamman temple at 2 am and attacked devotees inside the shrine and torched vehicles. Early next morning a group from another side allegedly vandalized the office of a property developer and set vehicles on fire.

The whole incident took place as an escalation of a land dispute between temple board and property developer MCT Berhad. This century-old shrine is constructed on the land owned by MCT Berhad, whose entity (a residential project) One City Development is in a legal battle with temple board over temple’s shifting.

In 2014, both parties reached a court settlement to relocate the temple to an area around 3.5 km away and the company also offered S$490,000 for the construction of the temple, reported the Strait Times.

Since not all devotees were in favor of relocation, security was raised at the temple after the relocation deadline passed on Nov.22. Devotees named One City behind the attack while developer denied the charges.

Malaysian authorities said on Nov.27 that 21 people have been arrested in connection with these scuffles and situation is under control, reported AP.

Meanwhile the Malaysian Indian community was told to remain calm and rational while handling temple issue.

Waytha Moorthy, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, was quoted Nov. 27 by New Straits Times as saying, “The issue is between the developer of the land where the temple is located and the temple management, and it should not be exploited and turned into a racial conflict.”

Condemning the attack by unidentified persons at One City Mall, he said yesterday, “The government will not tolerate this behavior and I urge the police to take immediate action to curb violence and mob rule undertaken by several groups in the name of safeguarding the temple.”

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