Congo man’s death in police custody sparks outrage among Africans in city

The death of a 27-year-old African man in police custody has sparked outrage among the African community in the city

The death of a 27-year-old African man in police custody has sparked outrage among the African community in the city.

Joel Shindani Malu, who worked under the alias Jon according to police, was a Democratic Republic of Congo national and was arrested by the JC Nagar police on Sunday.

As per the police’s claim, he died due to cardiac arrest while in custody, following which, a protest was held by some members of the African community on Monday morning in front of the police station. A minor scuffle between police and protesters was also reported.

Hours after the incident, additional commissioner of police (West) Soumendu Mukherjee said that as per the National Human Rights Commission guidelines, a case has been registered, and investigation has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from the local police.

Police have also filed a complaint against some protesting Congo nationals for allegedly attacking the policemen on duty.

As per the police’s claim, around 10.30 pm on Sunday, JC Nagar police received information regarding a drug peddler and a team was dispatched to the location.

Police had sent an informer and some policemen in mufti as decoys to arrest suspects on the pretext of buying drugs.

“A police team led by sub-inspector Raghupati laid a trap to catch a drug peddler Jon near 10th Cross, Banjara Layout. The Police team kept watch and waited till around 12:30 pm. Due to the sudden arrival of regular police patrolling van to the said place, the drug peddler named Jon changed the location of trade to Babusah Palya locality in Hennur PS limits,” read a statement issued by Dharamender Kumar Meena, deputy commissioner of police, north.

The police team then proceeded to the new location, and around 12.30 am, two foreign nationals approached them on a scooter. “Once the police informant identified pillion rider as Jon, the policemen in mufti apprehended him. In that scuffle as Jon was trying to flee, few small plastic packets containing white colour substance fell on the ground which was suspected to be narcotics substance,” the officer claimed.

The foreign national refused to give details or produce any document regarding his identity on enquiry by the police. On further enquiry, he confessed it to be MDMA, an illegal narcotic. Jon was brought to the police station, along with seized suspected narcotics substance, and bike at around 2.15 am and an FIR was registered against him.

Around 5.10 am, in charge SHO (Station House Officer) informed the PSI Raghupati that Jon suddenly started complaining of chest pain. “PSI Raghupati immediately acted on this information and shifted him to nearby Chiraayu Hospital for treatment at around 5:30 am. On preliminary medical examination, he was diagnosed with Bradycardia and administrated several rounds of CPR and other lifesaving interventions. At around 6.45 am, he was declared dead due to suspected cardiac arrest,” said the DCP’s narrative of the events.

The Congo nationals who protested in front of the police station claimed he was not a drug peddler and the police torture resulted in his death. “We got a call from our brother (Joel) that police had picked him up, and he needed money for bail. We arranged the money and came to the police station in the morning (Monday), then the police told us that he died. How can anyone believe this?” said one of the protesters who refused to identify himself.

He further added that they were not allowed inside the police station and none of the officers provided any answers to their questions. They were later dispersed by the police. “We are students, we are here to study. We want a case registered against the officers responsible for his death,” said another student.

Police claimed that on verification, it was found his visa had expired in 2015, and his passport had expired in 2017.

Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant said that all procedures laid out by NHRC have been followed. “Postmortem by two doctors, inquest by a judge and the entire process has been recorded on video. Despite us following procedures, some Africans had tried to attack the police. We have arrested them, and the cases have been filed,” said Pant.

He also pointed out that more than 90 foreign nationals have been arrested for drug peddling in the city this year.

Meanwhile, CM Basavaraj Bommai while reacting on the incident on Monday said, “There are many African nationals (living in Bengaluru) and several of them who have overstayed beyond their visa. We are taking very strict action against this.” He added that they have asked for a CID probe and that protestors are attacking the police unnecessarily.

Source: Hindustan Times

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