Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Man sets himself on fire to stop demolition

By FMT Staff

PETALING JAYA: A 52-year-old MIC man today set himself on fire in an attempt to stop local council authorities from demolishing two wooden structures belonging to a Hindu temple in Puchong.

He suffered severe burns on his face and stomach and is being treated at the Serdang Hospital. It is learnt that his condition is critical.

The drama unfolded this morning when a team of enforcement officers from the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) arrived at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Pusat Bandar Puchong to tear down the two wooden structures.

The two structures, which the enforcement officers said were illegal, housed the temple's chariot and was used as a store room.

They were located in a land belonging to the Castlefield Tamil School. The temple itself is located at the other end of the land. The temple committee has been using the structures on the land for the past 10 years with the permission of the school.

As soon as the enforcement officers arrived, Puchong MIC division information chief M Gunaseelan tried to stop them from proceeding with the demolition.

“When they failed to listen to him, he climbed onto the roof of the wooden store room and set himself on fire,” said an eye-witness.

Gunaseelan then rolled down the roof of the building and fell on the ground. Several people then help to douse the fire on him.

He was immediately whisked away to Serdang Hospital where he has been placed under the ICU. No one is allowed to visit him. His family members are keeping vigil outside the ICU ward.

School wants kindergarten
The wooden structures were torn down by the MPSJ enforcement officers who were assisted by Rela personnel. They are scheduled to return tomorrow to complete their task to clean up the place.

FMT learnt that the school wants to build a kindergarten on the plot of land where the two structures stood. The temple, however, has its own plan to convert that spot to build a marriage hall.

Last-minute pleas by the temple officials for the demolition to be stopped were brushed aside by the MBSJ officials.

It is further learnt that the MPSJ officials were brought to the spot by a contractor who was bidding to build the kindergarten.

The school claims that part of land was given to it by a contractor and it had only allowed the temple to squat on it.

MIC Youth chief and Puchong division leader T Mohan told FMT that the matter could have been settled amicably between the school and the temple.

“We are now talking to them so that we can resolve this issue. The structures have been demolished but we will have to see how to move forward so that both the school and temple can make use of this land,” he said.

He also hoped that Gunaseelan would recover soon from his burn injuries.

“It is shocking. I have not been able to see him at the hospital but I hope he will be okay,” he said.