SUBANG JAYA: The funeral procession of A. Kugan, whose death in police custody has galvanised civil society, became emotional during prayers at the police station where he died.
The procession from the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) mortuary in Petaling Jaya reached the Taipan police station here at about 2:50pm Wednesday.
After short prayers, some people in the crowd brought out banners and posters, against earlier directives of the authorities, and began shouting accusations at the police.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar on Monday said police would not allow any carrying of banners or posters during Kugan’s funeral.
He said the funeral should not be politicised or turned into a racial event.
He warned groups who were not involved to stay out of the funeral procession.
“The body should be brought straight from the mortuary to the crematorium in Puchong,” he said.
Ismail said that if Kugan’s body was taken elsewhere, it would be considered an illegal gathering and the police would take action.
However, when faced with the angry crowd on Wednesday, the police kept calm and continued directing traffic.
The procession finally left a little after 3:00pm to proceed to the crematorium at Puchong, where the suspected car thief will finally be laid to rest, leaving in his wake disturbing questions about police abuse.
Five men were arrested earlier at UMMC. First, police detained two men who tried to get through a barricade at the mortuary despite orders to disperse.
Two more were detained at about 1:40pm by plainclothes policemen for allegedly trying to incite the crowd.
The four were wearing t-shirts depicting the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force movement, or Hindraf. The fifth is believed to be former Hindraf coordinator R.S. Thanendran.
The first arrests, made at the UMCC entrance about 12.15pm, came after Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid had made an announcement asking the crowd disperse.
He gave the crowd up till a count to 10 to disperse, failing which he said arrests would be made. He then ordered his men to arrests the two.
They have been taken to the Brickfields police headquarters for questioning, ACP Wan Abdul Bari said.
At about 1:25pm, FRU officers came to the front of the mortuary and forced press photographers away from the scene.
Earlier at 12:45pm, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran, Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) Dr P. Ramasamy and the family’s lawyer N. Surendran arrived but were denied entry into the mortuary by a UMMC security officer.
A heated exchange ensued before they were allowed in, together with Kugan’s parents and two other relatives.
Relatives and friends were then allowed entry into the mortuary where Kugan’s body is being kept, but only in batches of five.
At a hastily-convened press conference at the scene, Manikavasagam denied online rumours that the funeral procession was going to proceed to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre to hold a demonstration.
Instead, he clarified, the procession would first proceed to Subang Jaya where a five-minute prayer would be held at the Taipan police station in which Kugan was killed, before proceeding to Puchong for the funeral rites.
Meanwhile, Gobind said they were not there to cause trouble and blamed the police for blowing things out of proportion.
“We’re just here to show our support,” he said. “We’re just here to claim the body and allow Kugan’s funeral to proceed.”
Gobind also said that the second post-mortem report has been completed but the doctor who conducted it had yet to reveal anything.
Later, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok arrived as well.
Members of the Field Reserve Unit (FRU) and the Light Strike Force were deployed early Wednesday to Jalan Universiti to prepare for the funeral procession.
The suspected car thief had died while being questioned by police on Jan 20.
The units were placed there in anticipation of a large crowd for the procession that will begin at UMMC and proceed to Puchong, Petaling Jaya police chief Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said earlier.
Members of the public should not join in any illegal gathering and police will take stern action, he added.
Kugan’s family had arrived at the scene a little after 12 noon.
His uncle, Ravi Roy, 42, had earlier told the media said that the family was not blaming the police force for Kugan’s death, but was merely seeking the truth.
“We are not blaming the entire police force, all we want is for the people who are responsible to be brought to justice,” he said at the Bandar Kinrara home here of Kugan’s parents on Monday.
UMMC conducted the second post-mortem on kugan last Sunday.
The 22-year-old collapsed and died inside the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on Tuesday last week. The initial post-mortem revealed that he had died due to fluid in his lungs, but Kugan’s family entered the Serdang Hospital mortuary that same day and took photographs of his body, which showed severe bruising.
They demanded a second post-mortem, although that report is not out yet.
While initially saying no foul play was involved, police have now reclassified the case as murder for the purpose of investigation, at the urging of the Attorney-General.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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