On terror alert, army joins cops to patrol Batu Caves for Thaipusam

By Hannah Jonas

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — For the first time, army personnel have joined forces with the police to patrol the Sri Maha Mariamman temple at Batu Caves and its surrounding area during Thaipusam.

Lt Nasrullah Azman, who is in charge of the army deployment at the temple, said the joint patrols, that started yesterday, would be conducted around-the-clock until midnight on Tuesday.

“Police had already started patrolling the area since January 15,” he said.

Gombak OCPD Asst Comm Ali Ahmad said they do not expect any untoward incidents to occur but were fully prepared to face potential threats, not only in Batu Caves but throughout the country.

“I am not saying it will happen but we have taken measures to strengthen our force for anything that may come our way,” he said, referring to terrorist activities that have been happening outside the country.

“I would like to stress that we have an adequate amount of manpower, both uniformed and plainclothes, and I urge the public not to spread unconfirmed news about security as we have everything under control.”

He added that those on duty included members of the General Operations Force and the Federal Reserve Unit.

Subatra Kalairajah, 22, who has been coming to Batu Caves for Thaipusam for the past 20 years with her family, said it was good that mesures were being taken to ensure a high level of security.

“I feel safe when I’m here with my family but sometimes, I do get nervous with the large crowd. So, it helps to know that there will be extra protection,” said the international business executive.

Student Mala Palaniandy, 24, who was at Batu Caves with friends, said she has never questioned safety and security when attending the Thaipusam festival.

“The additional security measures make me feel more secure and I’ll have one less thing to worry about when I come back again on Thaipusam day,” she said.

Another visitor, R. Vickneswaran, 32, said the beefed up security was an indication that the authorities were putting the people first.

“They are prioritising our safety and I am more relaxed about bringing my family here this time around,” he said.