AT THEIR wits’ end, two devotees of the 147-year-old Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ 25 have been on a hunger strike since Sunday to stop its relocation.
Nagaraju Meganathan, 64 – who said his grandfather built the temple when the area was an oil palm plantation – and K. Selvam, of non-governmental organisation Free Malaysia, said they were willing to die to save the temple.
On Sept 28, Shah Alam High Court issued a notice requesting temple occupiers to vacate the premises before Oct 15.
Selvam said it was insensitive to order the relocation when they were currently celebrating the nine-day Navarathiri Festival, and Deepavali next month.
He said the state government should intervene to help resolve the issue, and for the temple to be turned into a heritage site.
Nagaraju said he signed a consent to relocate the temple to USJ 23 behind the current temple, 2.7km away.
However, he said the landowner at that time gave him consent to take over the land in USJ 23 and also the land beside the current site.
“We thought we could use the land in USJ 23 to build a hall and new temple next to the current site. I was only given a day to sign the agreement, even though I asked for five days.
“I had no time to do a land title search and only later found out that the land did not belong to the said owner,” he said.
Nagaraju said the current site was supposed to be gazetted in 1987, but nothing materialised.
They were supposed to relocate in 2015, Nagaraju added, but he refused to then because the land in USJ 23 was not gazetted as per the clause in the consent letter.
The temple committee agreed to move to the alternative site, and a temporary structure to house deities during the relocation was built in June last year. A temple proper will be built at a later date.
Nagaraju said neither he nor the devotees were ready to move, unless they were given the land beside the temple.
Malaysian Indian Education Transformation Association chairman Elangovan Annamalai said they were open to solutions, adding that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department senator P. Waytha Moorthy would help look into the case.
In a press statement, the temple committee said the relocation of the temple was based on a consent judgment by the Shah Alam High Court in 2014.
The new land provided by One City Development Sdn Bhd is free from obstructions, especially major highways and traffic.
One City contributed to the costs to build the new temple.
Temple management committee president Chellappa L. Kalimuthu said the temple relocation was agreed by all parties in 2014.
“As per the agreement, construction for a new temple started and is now completed. We are ready to move. As the rightful party to manage the temple, we are working closely with various authorities to ensure that Hindu devotees can perform their prayers at the new temple for Deepavali,” he said.
The Malaysia Hindu Sangam gave its support and cooperation to the relocation exercise.
Its president Datuk R.S. Mohan said they would work with the temple management and authorities to ensure all deities and significant items are relocated in accordance to the required ceremonial prayers.
Chellappa said numerous attempts for a peaceful relocation were unsuccessful, as Nagaraju and other occupiers had yet to comply with the court’s judgment to vacate the temple.
In support of the duo, 108 devotees will carry fire pots round the temple during prayers tonight.