Family Alleges Foul Play After 21-Year-Old Indian Man Arrested Under POCA Dies in Police Custody

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(source: Malay Mail/ FMT)

The family of Surendran Shanker has alleged foul play after he died in Kluang Hospital on Wednesday (26 May) while being held at the Simpang Renggam prison in Johor. The 21-year-old was held under POCA – a law that allows for detention without trial.

Surendran’s death is the third custodial death in recent weeks after that of cow’s milk vendor A Ganapathy on 18 April and security guard S Sivabalan on 20 May. Both of them died in hospital after being held at the Gombak police station.

According to FMT, a police report lodged by a Prison Department official cited a doctor at the hospital stating that Surendran died due to “septic shock with multiple organ failure”.

He had been taken to the hospital from the Simpang Renggam Prison after complaining of severe abdominal pain. However, Surendran’s family suspects foul play.

Surendren’s mother, Kumatameri Asirvatham (source: The Malaysian Insight)

“We have to accept that he is gone but I feel there is injustice here. We feel there is foul play involved as Surendran had no health issues. He was only 21,” his mother Kumatameri Asirvatham said.

Surendran was apparently arrested in Petaling Jaya, Selangor last June for alleged drug offences and was remanded for four days before being detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA).

He was reportedly sent to a rehabilitation centre in Muar, Johor last August and then transferred to Simpang Renggam prison on 25 April.

(source: Twitter)

The mother reportedly said she was contacted at 4.30 pm on Wednesday (26 May) by a Simpang Renggam prison official who said that Surendran had been admitted to Kluang Hospital on Tuesday after complaining of “severe pain in his stomach”.

Surendran’s condition later worsened, and on Thursday, a police officer reportedly told his cousin Surenthar Richard that he had died at around 12.30 am.

Kumatameri said her family from Subang Jaya will claim the body before deciding the course of actions.

Meanwhile, many netizens have been calling out for an Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill in wake of these custodial deaths, using the hashtag #IPCMCNOW on social media platforms.

To refresh, the Bill is to set up the IPCMC and state its functions and powers, as well as what kind of complaints regarding the police would be handled and how these complaints would be investigated, in addition to disciplinary procedures to deal with misconduct and the punishments that can be meted out on errant police personnel.

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