By Archana Patrick
In the 90’s, the mere sight of A. Muraly would most likely garner fear among many residents living in the Batu Caves area.
Muraly used to live a life of violence. His first encounter on the wrong side of the law was at the tender age of 19 when he slashed a trader at the Selayang wet market during an altercation.
“The person ended up in the Intensive Care Unit and I went into hiding, both from the police and the victim’s friends,” he recalled in an interview three years ago with Free Malaysia Today.
Eventually, he was arrested under the Emergency Ordinance and sent to the Simpang Renggam detention centre – aged 22.
It was during his time behind bars for six years that Muraly indulged in self-reflection and reading books including that of Nelson Mandela’s life story being one of sacrifice for a noble cause.
Upon his release and having been disowned by his own family, what happened next to Muraly would set him on the path towards his true calling.
“….I was praying to Lord Muruga at the foot of the Batu Caves temple to show me the right way forward when I saw a wheelchair-bound man praying”. In no time, he called upon a few friends who in turn assisted him to carry the disabled man up the 272 steps of the temple.
The turning point was in 1999, when Muraly gathered 200 men to carry 50 wheelchair-bound people up the flight of stairs to commemorate his father’s birthday.
“People were even telling him that he was lucky to have a son like me,” exclaimed Muraly.
View Star TV’s recent coverage of Muraly and his team of his volunteers lending a helping hand in Batu Caves at this year’s Thaipusam celebration!
Fast forward 20 years later, the former thug (ketua samseng) has certainly turned over a new leaf. Every year Muraly and his team of volunteers are always at hand to carry wheelchair-bound devotees up the 272 steps of the Batu Caves temple during Thaipusam.
Apart from his yearly Thaipusam-stint helping the disabled up the flight of stairs to the Batu Caves temple, he is also the founder of Tamilan Uthavum Karangal (Tamilan Helping Hands), an NGO which helps the poor, the underprivileged, as well as disabled people.
As a strong advocate against gangsterism in the Indian community, he has also devoted his time conducting talks at schools on the importance of staying away from crime.
If there is one piece of advice Muraly stands by, it is this – “God gave us hands and legs to help those without them, not to cut them off.”
The once feared “ketua samseng” is now a well-regarded inspiration to youth, especially Indian youth. The father of two runs a successful meat business now, after taking over his father’s position.