Sender: Harinder Singh
Today, yet another family wails in sorrow. This sorrow, this despair –– is that of a kind we have seen all too well, time and again. But never have we acted. As we––the people––stood-by in inaction, another family has today lost an irreplaceable part of their lives. Another family, whose lives, will never again be the same.
What differs the plight of this family is this. Their plight was brought about by the very men, in whom we place our utmost faith, trust, and care in. We trust them with our safety and our very lives. They are the enforcers of the law –– the police. How then, could we have allowed this happen, yet once again? We should not have. This could have been prevented. It ought to have been prevented. And it should have never happened. But it did. And we are to blame.
S. Bala Murugan was arrested on the 6th of February 2017. And in the wee hours of the 8th of February, his family received devastating news: that he had died in police custody. He was only 44 years old.
Bala Murugan was found to be severely bleeding from his mouth, and he then vomited blood, whilst in court. When questioned, he alleged that the police had assaulted him: that he was battered in custody. Abused, by the men in blue.
Upon his passing, several photographs of his postmortem were posted on various social media platforms, and they were distressing. They revealed the lifeless body of a poor man who had been severely battered, bruised and tortured. To merely look at those photos was simply harrowing.
The dreadful reality today is that Bala Murugan remains only one of the many hundreds who have succumbed to their untimely deaths, at the fists of our country’s law enforcers. From 2000 to 2014, there have been a staggering 242 deaths in police custody2. It is worthy of mention, that these are only
statistics from the police themselves.
An average of 17 deaths a year in police custody, over a period of 14 years, is nothing but terrifying. This is the custody of the police we speak of. Where an individual ought to be and feel: safe. But instead, there is torture, brutality, and the stench of death, engulfing the safe custody of the police.
Calls for the police to be brought to task have been echoed time and again, to no avail. Resultantly, these deaths have today become common occurrence. There are repeated calls for investigations to be carried out, but no convictions follow suit. Do the lives of these men have no value? The Inspector General of Police must answer. But will you, Tan Sri? I say not.
And the same can be said for us.
Why do we treat these deaths in police custody as common occurrence?
Why do we not speak out against these deaths?
Do you not regard a life sacred?
Or will you finally do so, when a member of your family, is the one placed on that postmortem table? It will be too late.
Change starts with us. And it starts now. The first step towards holding the police accountable for these deaths; is first to speak up against them.
Let us seek justice for the voiceless. Those, whose voices were silenced by the oppressive arm of whom regard themselves immune from the law.
Today it was him; tomorrow –– it could be you.
Act now, speak up. Together, we can make a change.