29 March-4 April 2013 #649

Back from the battlefield

Bhim Tamang, 25 March, onlinekhabar.com

Rumours about attacks on Nepali migrant workers at Pasir Gudang of Johore Bahru state started to surface on Sunday evening. I tried getting hold of Nepalis there, but many didn’t answer their phones and those who did sounded frightened and refused to talk much. All they said was that a large number of Malaysian youth had attacked them and they were hiding in the toilets.

After Chakra Subedi, secretary at the Nepali embassy in Kuala Lumpur arrived the next morning, we found out that two Nepalis had been badly injured in the skirmish and were being treated at Sultan hospital in Johore. At the hospital we met Ramlal Sahu of Rautahat and Raju Bamrel Bishwakarma of Nuwakot who had deep cuts and broken bones. We also met another Nepali worker being treated at the nearby clinic. But luckily no one was killed. The police had arrested 12 Nepalis involved in the fight.

We went to the hostel where the brawl began. The place was heavily guarded by policemen and looked like a battleground with broken windows, television sets, and blood smeared all over. The workers there looked frightened and were still in shock. They said four Malaysians had come to attack them and when they retaliated, the four returned with almost 200 others armed with sharp knives and rods and resumed the attack. The police soon arrived, fired several rounds, and bought the situation under control.

After talking to the police and the men in the hostel, we learnt the clash might have started after some Nepalis teased local girls. There have been incidents in the past when Malaysians and Nepalis have had heated discussions over this issue.

Since this was an organised attack, fear of reprisal is high. Secretary Subedi therefore has requested the company to shift the Nepali workers to another location. He will also request authorities in Johore Bahru to not press charges against the Nepalis because they were caught in a planned attack.

Bhim Tamang is onlinekhabar’s correspondent in Malaysia.