Bengaluru: Protest erupts over custodial death of Congolese man, 6 injured

The alleged custodial death of a Congolese national on Monday triggered protests in Bengaluru leading to the injury of six nationals from African countries as police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd, reports said. 

On Sunday, police detained Joel Shindani Malu, 27, over the accusations that he possessed a cache of banned psychotropic drugs. He passed away on Monday morning, police said citing that he died of cardiac arrest.

The news sparked protests by nationals of African countries, demanding an enquiry into the death. They clashed with the police during demonstrations outside J.C. Nagar police station. 

According to The Hindu on Sunday night the police apprehended Joel while he was riding a bike as a pillion. Police said that Joel and his aide tried to flee but he was caught during which few small plastic packets, containing a white substance, fell to the ground. The site later confirmed that the substance was  5 grams of MDMA. The aide reportedly managed to escape.

The next morning he complained of chest pain after which he was shifted to a private hospital. 

“After four to five hours we got his documents. As per NHRC and SC guidelines, we are proceeding,” said Soumendu Mukherjee, according to Bangalore based outlet, The News Minute. 

“Meanwhile, some of his friends came and protested here. Despite the police showing restraint, the protestors started attacking the police. We had to resort to a mild lathi charge. Our sub Inspector and constables also got injured and are receiving treatment,” he added.

The protestors were members of the Pan African Federation. The protesters were arrested and taken away in police vans and a few others were pushed inside auto-rickshaws and taken separately to police stations nearby, said TNM.

A video shows 4-5 policemen repeatedly beating a protester with their lathis even as he denies having done anything. He is seen bleeding from his head in the video.

“A case of unnatural death has been registered and investigation is being conducted as per guidelines of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),” Dharmendra Kumar Meena, DCP, north division, said.

The police said that they have noted it as a custodial death and informed the relevant agencies of necessary procedures. The case has been transferred to the CID for investigation. 

The protestors countered the police theory claiming that Joel was nabbed in a raid when he was attending his friend’s birthday party.