By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Umno leaders have accused Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of provoking Thursday night’s violence during a PKR rally in Lembah Pantai, and said it should not be held responsible for the incident.
Yesterday, PKR accused Umno of “escalating political violence” after the said function was pelted with stones, eggs and water bottles, resulting in a “night of bloodshed” that saw at least two seriously injured.
The party wants Umno leaders to take action against their members who allegedly attacked opposition leaders and the crowd.
But Lembah Pantai Umno division leaders today denied PKR’s accusations, and in turn accused the opposition party of “exaggerating” the events from that night.
“On that night, some of our own (Umno members) were also hurt. The provocation was started by Anwar, who called (Lembah Pantai) Umno Youth ‘sial, celaka’.
“You have to understand, when provoked... anything can happen,” Lembah Pantai Umno Youth chief Datuk Mohamad Sazali Kamilan told reporters.
Anwar had use the words on Umno Youth members who were at a separate rally 100 metres away, shortly after PKR’s event was attacked with stones, eggs and water bottles.
Today, Mohamad Sazali maintained his Umno Youth members as well as several youth groups were conducting a polls “simulation” exercise on that night when the PKR de facto leader began provoking them.
Lembah Pantai Umno information chief Datuk Ibrahim Thamby Chik said Umno members were also injured, and that “people over there” had thrown eggs and stones at them.
“We deny accusations that Umno Youth members were violent and that the night was a night of bloodshed.
“We can’t even accuse... there were a lot of people... [we don’t know who threw what and at whom]. We don’t want to accuse,” Ibrahim said.
He described Anwar’s conduct as “rude” and “uncalled for”, and insisted that the situation on Thursday night was peaceful before the opposition leader started verbally abusing Umno Youth members.
“They are good at manipulating, and exaggerating stories... what they are doing reflects a manifestation of how the people of Lembah Pantai have rejected Anwar and PKR.
“Umno’s roots in Lembah Pantai [are] unshakeable. Of course they (Umno) feel challenged,” he added.
Sazali said an Umno Youth member, Muhd Saiful Bukhari, was hit on his forehead by a stone on that night.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has since condemned the violence and denied that any instruction was given to Umno Youth members to disrupt the ceramah.
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar is currently the Lembah Pantai MP. She won the seat narrowly from Umno Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil.
Nurul Izzah is expected to defend the constituency and will likely face Umno Lembah Pantai chief Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin in the coming general election.