A century-old Hindu temple at Alor Setar was recently demolished by state authorities who also confiscated its Deity statue, according to a report by FMT.
This led to a petition called “Justice for the unexplainable demolition of the century-old Indian temple in Alor Setar” was made by Deevagaran Naidu to the Kedah State Government to call for an explanation regarding this act.
According to the petition, the temple was built over a century ago by Indian labour workers who were in charge of building the railway track from Butterworth up to the northern side of Malaya in the early 1900s.
According to Mr.Vijay Mohen, who is the current caretaker and also the great-great-grandson of one of the labourers, the location of the temple was given by the Malayan Railways Co. It was deemed as an act of gratitude to respect the beliefs of the Indian workers, so they would have a guardian Deity who would protect them while they were working on the train tracks.
Although the temple welcomed many worshippers from all over Kedah and was even registered and recognised by the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, the underlying problem that the shrine faced was getting rejected by the Registrar of Societies because it was too small.
Mr Vijay had also expressed that the local city council (MBAS) issued a notice saying that the shrine was illegally built on road reserve land and claimed that the location of the shrine was obstructing traffic flow. Mr Vijay called for an appeal against the decision to tear down the temple, but he was ignored.
Later on, as reported in Varnam, Mr.Vijay was ordered by the Chief Minister to relocate within a month but he was shocked to receive a letter from the Alor Setar City Council that stated the temple would be demolished in 10 days.
Unfortunately on 9 July 2020, not only was the temple demolished during the odd hours of 2am, but the local authorities had even confiscated the statue of the Deity, which further infuriated the temple’s patrons.
In the same FMT report, DAP’s P Ramasamy expressed that the act of demolishing the temple was based on religious and extremist sentiments whereas Kedah Menteri Besar’s special officer B Kumaresan denied this and claimed that four notices were delivered to the caretaker and ample time was given to relocate.
He also expressed that the temple was “smack on the middle of the road” and frequently caused traffic congestions to the railway station.
In the last few paragraphs of the petition, Deevagran also expressed that relocating a temple is not easy, because there are various religious SOP’s to follow. However, the overarching issue that has been plaguing the temple’s community for years is the discrimination and reluctance of authorities to pay attention to them.
In recent years, there have been several cases where temples of cultural importance have been demolished such as 101-year-old The Sri Muneswarar Kaliayaman temple located off Jalan P Ramlee in 2013. According to Cilisos, 10,000 Hindu temples have been destroyed since 1957.
To read the petition, click here.
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