Apr 21, 06 8:55am Malaysiakini|
Malaysian authorities have demolished a century-old Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, bulldozing the building as devotees cried and begged them to stop, Hindu groups said today.
The Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple at Pantai Dalam was reduced to rubble after Kuala Lumpur's city hall sent in bulldozers, they said.
In a complaint to police the temple's vice president, Subramaniam Ragappan, said about 300 devotees were praying Tuesday when the machines arrived, accompanied by police and city hall officials.
"We were forced to stop our prayers and (rituals) halfway as they proceeded to tear down the temple," he said in a copy of the complaint obtained by AFP.
A copy of a letter from city hall to a local lawmaker, who had asked for the temple to be left intact, said the demolition was going ahead to make way for a building project.
City hall officials were not immediately available for comment.
Subramaniam said city hall tried in 2001 and again in 2004 to tear down the building, which was on government land, but had been dissuaded by politicians.
"Everybody was crying and saying how could the government do this, but they still broke the temple," he told AFP.
"For 100 years we prayed there. How could they come to remove the temple?" he said, adding that they were given just one day's notice of the demolition.
'Thousands have been demolished'
Hindu groups, who called for Kuala Lumpur's mayor to be sacked and arrested, said the temple was built by Indian labourers over a century ago.
Waytha Moorthy, the chair of Hindraf, a Hindu rights group, said he had seen dozens of temples destroyed in recent years, mostly to make way for shopping malls and commercial buildings.
"These issues are never taken up by the government and we believe thousands have been demolished over the last 15 years," he said.
Malaysia's population of 26 million people is dominated by some 60 percent Muslim Malays, with Indians making up 8.0 percent and ethnic Chinese most of the remainder.
Religious minorities often complain their rights are overlooked in favour of the majority Muslims.