Malaysian police probe group threatening to spray paint women dressed inappropriately during Thaipusam

The Thaipusam Spraying Group issues an online poster, warning Hindu women at the Thaipusam festival that they would be sprayed with aerosol paint if they are inappropriately dressed.
The Thaipusam Spraying Group issues an online poster, warning Hindu women at the Thaipusam festival that they would be sprayed with aerosol paint if they are inappropriately dressed.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police are investigating a group that has threatened to track down women "dressed inappropriately" during Thaipusam festival and spray paint their bodies.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said they were aware of a post by the group which had gone viral on Facebook. It had warned Hindu women to expect being sprayed with paint should they be "inappropriately dressed" at events marking Thaipusam, which falls on Feb 9.

"Thaipusam Spraying Group" page creator Henry Barnabas posted pictures revealing the backs of women donning different designer saree blouses with a comment: "Advance warning to Hindu female patrons coming to Thaipusam festival, beware of being sprayed with aerosol paint if found inappropriately dressed."

The police were not amused.

"What these individuals are planning to do is unlawful, and we will not allow it.

"If anyone is caught breaking the law, they will be dealt with," Comm Abdul Samah said on Monday (Jan 9).

He said the police were also looking into who created the Facebook page.

Comm Abdul Samah urged anyone with information to come forward and assist the police.

Netizens have also been critical of the group. Facebook user Sasi Rekha Ravi called the warning "stupid" and said the men should "stay home instead of being a nuisance".

Thaipusam Task Force coordinator G. Gunaraj said it "will not condone such behaviour and will reach out to the police and enforcement officers".

"There is a dress code that should be followed and we can only educate people to follow it. We can't force them and it is not right to do so."

Hindu Sangam Religious Advisory Board member, Dr Thilagavathy Kanagaretnam, said the group's intention to make women dress more appropriately is not wrong, "but they should not take such drastic measures".

Wanita Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) leader Datuk Mohana Muniandy said the group should not take the law into their own hands under the guise of religion.

"We can advise people to dress accordingly, but we cannot punish them," she said, adding that Wanita MIC would lodge nationwide police reports against the group for mocking and inciting violence.