Malaysia tightens security at Batu Caves amid fears of possible threat

Hindu devotees walk up the steps leading to the Batu Caves temple outside Kuala Lumpur on Jan 12, 2016.
Hindu devotees walk up the steps leading to the Batu Caves temple outside Kuala Lumpur on Jan 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SHAH ALAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Security at Malaysia's popular Batu Caves has been heightened for the Thaipusam celebration on Sunday (Jan 24).

"We have more than enough police personnel on duty there to handle any situation," said Selangor police chief  Abdul Samah Mat, adding that security had been enhanced at the prominent Hindu temple and caves located near the Malaysian capital, since Jan 15.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (Jan 20), he said the police would be focusing on the area even though it had not received information about any threat. Comm Datuk Abdul Samah said a series of meetings had been held between the Gombak police district and the temple committee.

 

The district police for Sentul, Asst Comm R. Munusamy, said there would be a heavy police presence at Batu Caves, following reports lodged about Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants planning to create chaos during the Thaipusam celebration.

He said they were not taking chances following recent reports of people resembling militants being seen at the temple ground.

Thousands of devotees are expected to throng Batu Caves; the peak period is expected to be on the eve of Thaipusam on Saturday (Jan 23).

On Jan 18, a group of non-governmental organisations lodged a police report at the Sentul police headquarters, claiming that they had received pictures of suspicious looking people with backpacks at the temple site.

The NGOs claimed that the pictures showed them within the perimeters of the temple compound and observing people who were there to perform prayers.

A 28-year-old representative of the NGOs also alleged in his report that he had received feedback that ISIS was planting suicide bombers and wanted the police to ensure the safety of the devotees.

Asst Comm Munusamy confirmed having received the report from the representative.

"We have our own strategies to ensure the safety of the devotees and they can carry out their religious duties without fear," he said.

National Malaysian Indian Congress Youth deputy chief M. Thinalan said they had also received similar pictures.

He said the Batu Caves temple committee has also been asked to provide more security personnel.