Storming was like a scene from a Tamil film: Chief priest

About 100 people suddenly arrived at the temple, some with their mouths covered and wearing high-visibility vests, and began storming the temple gates.
About 100 people suddenly arrived at the temple, some with their mouths covered and wearing high-visibility vests, and began storming the temple gates.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SUBANG JAYA • The chief priest of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple said the storming of the temple "felt like a scene out of a Tamil movie".

Dr Jeyakumar Subramaniam claimed that he and other senior temple leaders were held down by masked assailants with knives to their necks in the incident in Subang Jaya on Monday.

"We were told by police officers on Sunday evening that the developer was coming in, and the Federal Reserve Unit and everyone else had been alerted," he said, adding that he had waited for them to arrive.

Dr Jeyakumar said that at about 2.15am, about 100 people suddenly arrived at the temple, some with their mouths covered and wearing high-visibility vests. They began storming the temple gates.

"They had locked the other gate, and were kicking and hitting the devotees, including women and young kids, telling them to get out," he said.

He said the assailants also warned him during the scuffle that the land the temple was on belonged to the developer, and that the devotees must leave.

The developer of a residential project on the land, One City Development, had reached a court settlement in March 2014 with temple representatives to relocate the century-old temple to another area 3.5km away.

Dr Jeyakumar also showed how temple items, such as heavy brass lamps, were broken and bent during the attack.

EVEN WOMEN AND KIDS ATTACKED

They had locked the other gate, and were kicking and hitting the devotees, including women and young kids, telling them to get out... Once the police showed up at about 4.15am, they quickly took off their vests and ran off.

DR JEYAKUMAR SUBRAMANIAM, chief priest of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, describing the violent incident.

"They wanted us to get out, but the gate was locked, and then later they told us to sit, saying that the developer was coming in.

"Once the police showed up at about 4.15am, they quickly took off their vests and ran off," he said.

Dr Jeyakumar claimed that the assailants also smashed up and rifled through the priest's and assistants' rooms, and made off with cellphones, gold and cash offerings from devotees that were kept there.

Temple task force leader S. Ramaji, who was one of those reportedly held down at knifepoint, said the task force would be lodging police reports.

 
 

Activist Elangovan Annamalai, who was injured in the attack, said he needed 10 stitches on his scalp.

The temple task force also said it had managed to recover sling bags and wallets discarded by the assailants when they fled.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'Storming was like a scene from a Tamil film: Chief priest'. Print Edition | Subscribe