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Malaysian Indian’s death sparks protest

P. S. Suryanarayana

Opposition parliamentarians concerned over “police brutality”

SINGAPORE: Treating the custodial death of an ethnic Indian man in Malaysia as “a national issue,” several Opposition Members of Parliament on Wednesday attended his funeral.

S. Manikavasagam, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) MP, who led the mourners, told The Hindu over the telephone from Kuala Lumpur that Opposition parliamentarians, cutting across Malay-Chinese-Indian ethnic lines, were concerned over “police brutality.”

“Thousands of mourners,” who marched a distance of about 20 km amid tight security, later witnessed the burial of A. Kugan, a suspect in a case of car theft.

He died on January 20 while in police custody and his family, unsatisfied with the post-mortem result, insisted that his death was caused by suspected “torture.”

A second post-mortem was then conducted, even as Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said the case was seen as one of possible “murder.”

Mr. Manikavasagam said Kugan’s body was buried and not cremated, so that it could be exhumed, should the need arise in the prosecution of the case.

The death has turned into a new rallying issue for Makkal Sakthi, a regrouped forum for the activists of the recently banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

Five Hindraf leaders, who had organised rallies demanding “justice” for the “marginalised” ethnic Indian minority, are in detention under the Internal Security Act. On Wednesday, five Hindraf activists, including Makkal Sakthi coordinator Thanenthiran, were arrested outside the mortuary during clashes before the start of Kugan’s funeral procession, Mr. Manikavasagam said.

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