Deval Rawal was killed when protest turned violent

  • Trouble over proposed giveaway of Mabira forest land
  • Indian community drops strike plan

    KAMPALA: The Ugandan police have detained 21 suspects, including four related to the killing of an Indian in Thursday's demonstration against the proposed forest giveaway that later turned violent in that country.

    Deval Rawal, a 24-year-old Indian, was beaten to death in downtown Kampala, when a peaceful demonstration turned into a riot over the proposed transfer of 7,100 hectares of the 31,000-hectare Mabira forest to an Indian-run sugar plant for a sugarcane plantation.

    Caught on video

    ``We arrested them on Friday night after video footage and photos caught them performing the grisly act,'' a senior police source was quoted as saying. ``They admitted that they battered Rawal to death.'' Some of those arrested during and immediately after the riots have been released after video recordings showed they were not involved in the violence.

    ``During the riots we picked people left and right. The number we are giving you now are of people who are in detention with specific charges,'' said Edward Ochom, Kampala Extra Police Chief, adding that the police had intensified the hunt for the perpetrators.

    ``Anybody who was involved, whether by breaking into shops, stealing motorcycles, inciting the masses or planning violence will be arrested,'' he said.

    Organisers summoned

    Several organisers of the rally were summoned on Friday to appear before the police and record statements. There were signs of confidence returning as some businessmen reopened their shops and banks on Saturday.

    Representatives of the Indian community decided to reopen their businesses after meeting Ugandan Security Minister Amama Mbabazi and police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura on Friday afternoon after they were convinced that their safety from the Government and the police was guaranteed.

    Following Rawal's death, the Indian community had wanted to go on a strike for two weeks through closure of all their businesses, including schools and hospitals. They also wanted to refuse paying taxes as a way of expressing their displeasure.

    The plan was, however, dropped after MP Tanna Singh and Kampala City Council councillor Pradip Karia intervened. Xinhua