PETALING JAYA: The Orang Asli community in Gua Musang, Kelantan, today dismissed the Kelantan Forestry Department’s denial that it had set a blockade on fire last night, saying they had evidence that proved otherwise.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan (JKOAK), an NGO, also said the Forestry Department had buried cooking utensils that had been stored in a hut located next to the blockade along the road leading up the Balah permanent forest reserve.
The hut, JKOAK secretary Jamali Ayu said, was also set ablaze.
“How can they deny what they did? We saw it with our own eyes and we have proof,” he told FMT.
Jamali added that the Forestry Department had not explained why it tore down the blockade and instructed the Orang Asli to vacate the area.
He said for now, the Orang Asli would not set up another blockade.
“All the blockades in Gua Musang have been torn down. We will put them up again, but some time later.”
Kelantan Forestry Department director Zahari Ibrahim had denied that his department had set any hut on fire although he admitted that they had dismantled the blockade.
Zahari said based on the report filed by the operations officer, the fire was caused by embers left behind by a group of Orang Asli in a newly-built hut at the blockade area.
However, prominent Orang Asli activist Siti Kasim was today quoted by news portal Berita Daily as saying that apart from eyewitnesses, she also had videos and photos to prove that the Kelantan Forestry Department had burnt down the blockade.
Yesterday, Siti, who also acts as a lawyer for the Orang Asli, shared pictures of the blockade’s destruction.
“They used bulldozers to clear huts, pushed them aside and burnt (them). Unfortunately, the boys didn’t take many photos of the burning.” -FMT