BENGALURU: Tension gripped JC Nagar as cops launched a lathi charge on a group of Africans who staged a protest in front of the police station here following an alleged custodial death on Monday.
A 27-year-old Congo national who was detained by the police on Sunday night on charges of drug peddling collapsed during a chase and died in custody due to cardiac arrest, the police said. The protesters alleged that it was a case of lock-up death. Three of the protesters were severely injured when they were hit by the police with lathis and walkie-talkies.
The case has been handed over to the CID and the city police commissioner and other senior police officers visited the spot. The deceased was overstaying, said police. He was living with his wife and studying BBA in a private college, they added.
The deceased has been identified as Joah alias Joel Shindani Malu, 27, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A senior police officer said he was detained at midnight on Sunday when he tried to escape on a bike and police chased him. He fell on the ground in his bid to escape and soon after reaching the police station, he complained of chest pain. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead around 5am. After administering treatment for almost one hour, doctors said that he had a cardiac arrest.
Following the news of his death, dozens of members of the African Association gathered in front of the police station and protested, demanding a detailed inquiry into the incident and alleged that the police were responsible for his death. Police said a lathi charge was carried out to disperse the protesters after they attacked a policeman. Many protesters sustained minor injuries and were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Based on credible information, a police team led by PSI Raghupati laid a trap to nab a drug peddler near 10th Cross, Banjara Layout. The police team kept watch and waited till the wee hours of Monday. Due to the sudden presence of police, he changed the location of the trade to Babusah Palya locality in Hennur PS limits.
In the scuffle as he was trying to flee, a few small plastic packets containing a white substance fell on the ground. They were suspected to be narcotics and later turned out to be 5 grams of MDMA. Meanwhile, another foreign national who was riding the bike escaped during the scuffle, the police officer added.
An FIR over the seizure of MDMA has been registered. Later, he was kept in the police station in order to ascertain his identity and carry out further enquiries and legal action.
As police were unable to verify his identity, Bosco, the president of the Pan African Federation, was informed about the incident. On further enquiry, his full name and nationality were identified as per his passport details. Available information suggests that his student visa expired in July 2015 and his passport expired on 13/12/2017.
A case of unnatural death has been registered and an investigation is being conducted as per guidelines of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dharmendra Kumar Meena, DCP, north division, said.
One of his friends said that Malu was celebrating a birthday party at his friend Torres's birthday in their house in Hennur when the police raided the place and picked him up. Malu's wife was also with him when he was detained.
It may be recalled that May this year, a 38-year-old Nigerian Peter Ofor was found dead in a canal of Kalkere lake in Ramamurthy Nagar police limits. The African association had protested his death seeking a detailed inquiry.