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Thursday June 21, 2012

Saravanan sees red over demolition of temple in Kepong

DEPUTY Federal Territories Ministry Datuk M. Saravanan was incensed by the demolition of the Maha Veppan Kaliamman temple in Kepong early yesterday morning.

Saravanan said he was made to “feel like a fool” negotiating with the group of government officers despite being in charge of non-Islamic religious land issues in the Federal Territory after a directive was sent out two years ago.

“The FT Land and Minerals Department went on with the demolition despite the directive that no temples should be demolished without prior discussion with me, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and FT Secretary-General Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib,” he said.

Taking control: Saravanan discussing the temple demolition issue with some of the devotees.

When he was informed about the demolition process that morning, he contacted the FT Land deparment director Hashim Ismail.

Saravanan said he had asked for the demolition process to be postponed until he could discuss the issue with Nong Chik but Hashim said he could not do anything.

Temple priest Periasamy Batumalai said 40 devotees tried to stop some 50 officers from DBKL and the police force from demolishing the temple.

Roads leading to the temple wereclosed off and devotees were barred from entering despite pleading with the officers.

According to the temple’s laywer Datin Anit Kaur Randhawa, the temple was not issued any order to vacate.

The officials used the notice from the Land and Minerals Department dated June 19, 2012 and the bulldozers moved in the very next day at 9am, barely 20 minutes after pasting the unsigned notice on the two gates of the temple.

“The DBKL officers and the police came at 8.30am and pasted the notice on the temple before proceeding to demolish it within 20 minutes. They only managed to tear down the fence surrounding the temple as the devotees formed a human barricade to halt the proceedings,” she said.

The demolition was later stopped by Saravanan who arrived at 10am.

The temple was initially located at the Jalan Kuching roundabout before moving to its current site in 2011.

The land in Kepong had been gazetted as religious land and set aside for non-Muslims.

“When I called Nong Chik, he said he was unaware of the demolition. I am surprised at the arrogance of the officers. They seemed to be in a rush to demolish the temple,” he said.

He added that the small plot of land was useful for the temple.

Anit Kaur said letters of support were sent to the Prime Minister’s Department on May 31 last year to apply for the land.

MIC Taman Fadason branch chairman K. Jayaraman said the demolition move was disrespectful.

Non-governmental body, the New Indian Welfare and Charity Malaysia, will donate RM2,000 to put up a barricade and secure the temple.

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