A witness from the Sri Maha Mariamman temple riots told the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court today that a group of people had gathered around a seemingly wounded fireman, warning against assaulting the rescue worker.
S Suresh, a 23-year-old contractor, told the court he came across the group when he went to check on his motorcycle, parked across the road from the temple.
“When I reached my motorcycle there was a crowd of 20 to 30 people nearby, and I could hear them say ‘don’t hit him, don’t hit him’ in Tamil several times.
“I approached closer and saw someone sitting on the pavement leaning against the bumper of a car and not moving,” he said today.
Suresh explained that this took place after he had arrived at the temple, where he saw a car set on fire several moments upon arriving.
“I had gone to the temple after seeing what had happened on Facebook, so I headed there to show my support for the temple,” he said.
Minutes later, he said a fire engine arrived to put out the flames, but the rescue personnel were bombarded by rioters there.
The ensuing commotion drove Suresh to return to his motorcycle, where he came across the group surrounding the fireman.
Suresh explained he was then shoved from the back as he got closer to the centre of the group, causing him to fall right in front of the injured fireman.
“I fell with one hand on the bumper and one hand on the fireman’s thigh, before I was kicked on right shoulder…I’m not sure by whom.
“It was only then I realised he was a fireman, from his outfit, and he seemed unconscious.
“I also heard someone in the group say in Tamil ‘even the fireman they want to hit’,” he said.
Suresh said he then left the group and met his friend R Narresh, also the ninth witness to take the stand, who had asked him what was going on.
“I told him that a fireman was beaten up, and he then went to check out what had happened,
“Prior to that I heard someone shout ‘don’t hit’ during the commotion,” he answered when questioned on what made him come to the conclusion the fireman was indeed assaulted.
Suresh said someone from the crowd then asked if anyone around could borrow their car to send the injured personnel to a hospital.
Several minutes later Suresh said he saw a few men carry the injured fireman away on their shoulders and later brought him to a hospital. The firefighter was only dressed in his fireman pants.
Suresh said he stayed at the hospital until 4am and was told by doctors that the man was in serious condition. He only learnt that the fireman was Adib later on.
Taking to the stand today, Narresh, 30, said he heard hordes of people yelling against hitting the fireman, while some others chanted for the firemen not be allowed off their fire trucks.
This had taken place just as the fire truck arrived at the scene on that Tuesday morning intending to put out the flames of a burning car.
“They were shouting ‘jangan pukul, itu bomba’ (Don’t hit, they’re fireman), ‘halau, jangan bagi turun’ (Chase them away, don’t let them come down).
“It was then I saw someone carry a long white pole and strike the fire trucks windshield several times, before the truck started reversing,” Narresh said.
He said the crowd then followed the truck as it backed up and hurled items such as mineral water bottles at the fire engine until it left the scene.
The inquest continues on Monday at 10.30am.