Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Devotees mull legal action over unlawful detention

by Malaysiakini,

Hindu devotees from Penang are mulling legal action against the police for allegedly detaining them for almost eight hours at the Kuala Lumpur police training centre (Pulapol) last Saturday.

Their lawyer SN Rayer said the unlawful detention - which took place when the KL police were taking steps to prohibit people from taking part in the Hindraf’s rose protest - was a violation of basic human rights and blatant abuse of power.

“We demand immediate investigation and action by the police. Otherwise, we would file a legal suit for criminal damages,” he told Malaysiakini after accompanying his clients to lodge police report on the unlawful detention in Jalan Patani police station in Georgetown on Tuesday.

A complainant, SK Jothi, 33, from Bayan Baru said she and 35 other passengers, all Hindu devotes, were travelling in a tour bus during an overnight trip from Penang to visit a temple in Kuala Lumpur when the police stopped the coach in Selayang, just outside the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

The police then seized their identity cards and re-directed them to Pulapol in Kuala Lumpur.

“We were detained together with about 300 people between 8.30am and 4.30pm at Pulapol for questioning and our luggage was searched.

“We were disallowed to have legal representation and were forced to undergo urine test.

“Men and women were forced to share the same unhygienic toilet facilities at the place,” she told Malaysiakini.

Another complainant, K Palanitharan, 32, said several elderly women fainted while being forced to wait under the hot sun during their eight-hour ordeal.

Sharing unhygienic toilets

Policemen even refused to supply drinking water to the detainees when requested, he added.

”We were not told the reasons for our unlawful detention and were told to go back to Penang immediately after eight hours,” he said.

It is learnt the police have detained these devotees together with hundred others passengers and questioned on their participation in the “Rose Campaign” organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) last Saturday morning.

Rayer said the police owe a public explanation on the reasons behind the unlawful detention of his clients and others as well.

“No drugs or weapons were found, they were disallowed to have their lawyers present.

“They were forced to share unhygienic toilets and undergo urine tests.

“Surely the police need to probe and reveal its findings,” he said.

When contacted, Georgetown deputy OCPD Supt Mohd Soaihami Rahim said the city police would refer the case to relevant police departments to probe.

“It happened in Selayang and Pulapol, therefore the case would be referred to police departments there,” he said.

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