Handicapped group denied favourite spot to do business at Batu Caves

waytha-1PETALING JAYA: The Hindu rights body Hindraf has urged Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali to help a group of wheelchair-bound volunteers get back their normal spot opposite the Batu Caves temple main gate to do business.

The group, Independent Living and Training Centre Malaysia, has for the past 12 years used the Thaipusam celebrations to set up stalls there to sell various items to raise funds and publicise their activities.

But this year, for some reason, the Selayang Municipal Council has decided to relocate them further away from the entrance, making it difficult for the handicapped volunteers to move about.

Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy said the vounteers and members claim the council’s action were a “gross violation to fundamental human rights, humiliating, intended to hurt their feelings and de-motivate their effort to give hope to the thousands of physically challenged people”.

He said he was seeking the urgent intervention of Azmin as the members intend to set up their tents at their usual site at 5pm tomorrow, whether or not they are granted licences by the council.

“They are prepared to put up a fight with the police and council enforcement officers with the help of the public,” Waytha said in a statement today.

WhatsApp messages on the protest have become viral, he added.

Selayang municipal councillors approached for help have washed their hands of the matter saying the physically-challenged persons cause obstruction and are a menace to the public, he added.

Waytha said in the past, the physically-challenged volunteers and members would manage their stalls non-stop for 36 hours during the Thaipusam festival to take advantage of the 1.5 million Hindu devotees and visitors.

They usually sell food items and drinks prepared by themselves, hairpins and other handmade souvenir items made by their members. The funds collected are used for the group’s activities.

The group, headed by Francis Siva, has been operating from Kg Sg Dua Tambahan, Jalan Batu Arang, Rawang, for the past 18 years.

It also provides training and support for physically-challenged individuals who are in need of support and care.