A witness today told the Coroner’s Court he saw about 30 people encircle and attack a prone target during the Sri Maha Mariamman temple riots last November.
The 17th witness into the inquest of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death, Nassaruddin Abdullah, 22, said the group first surrounded an Emergency Medical Response Service (EMRS) van after it was turned by a reversing fire truck that collided with it.
The group then crowded around an object, but Nassaruddin said he was not positive if it had been a person.
“Some of them were shouting profanities such as berani korang masuk dalam kuil India (How dare you enter the temple),” he said in Tamil through an interpreter.
Nasaruddin is a convert.
Answering government lawyer Hamdan Hamzah, he said around six people in the group began punching, kicking and stomping at the unidentified target in the middle of the crowd.
Not all in the crowd participated in the attacks but were cursing in Tamil, he said before Coroner Rofiah Mohamad Mansor.
Moments later, someone yelled “Police! Police!” and caused the group to disperse and run in the direction of the temple, he added.
“I was turning around looking for my friend and when I looked back at where the mob was, I saw people already carrying someone wearing only Bomba (Fire and Rescue Department) pants,” he said.
When asked to elaborate, Nassaruddin said he knew the person was shirtless as he could see his bare torso.
Nassaruddin also demonstrated the various punching and kicking motions.
He said he was unsure if the mob had encircled a person.
He also said he did not see if the mob was armed. However, he did see a mob attacking the fire truck with sticks, stones and helmets, which was corroborated by other witnesses in the inquest.
“I saw a mob of people climbing on the fire truck and hitting the side mirror – that’s when the truck backed out hitting the EMRS vehicle out of the way,” he said.
Nassaruddin, who is unemployed, said he went to the temple that night on his mother’s motorcycle with a friend, whom he named as Karthik.
He said the assault was over in less than a minute and that he then saw someone being carried away from the crowd to a nearby petrol station.
“I remember, the person who was being carried away from the scene was wearing the pants of a fireman’s uniform. I also saw some bystanders taking videos and pictures,” he added.
Nasaruddin said the group later ran to the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, situated opposite Jalan Usaha, after some people said the police were coming.
Asked by lawyer Kamaruzaman A Wahab, representing Adib’s family, whether he had heard anyone screaming for help at the scene, Nasaruddin said he did not hear any scream for help.