Thursday, 28 October 2010


On July 16, 2009, Teoh Beng Hock died......
Across town in a Sentul police station on that very same day,
another man died as well.

His name was R. Gunasegaran, and I believe he was beaten to death.
Today, 15 months later, I fear that the chain of events that started on that July 16 may endanger the well-being or even lives of another three men.
Arrested and beaten for testifying against cops?
~Nathaniel Tan

OCT 28 — I try not to hate cops, I really do.

I remember the ones who made an effort to get me better food than what lock-up inmates usually get. I think of those who risk life and limb to protect us every single day on the job.

Very little is to be gained, after all, from hating anyone. Or from trying to lump every member of a group as one monolithic being.

While we avoid hating people, I’m not sure it’s wrong to hate acts.

Some say hate is only one side of a coin away from love; that those who hate at least still care, and that the true attitude to worry about is indifference.

Gunasegaran and Teoh Beng Hock — Two deaths, one day

On July 16, 2009, Teoh Beng Hock died. This is an incident I hope we will never, ever forget.

Across town in a Sentul police station on that very same day, another man died as well. His name was R. Gunasegaran, and I believe he was beaten to death.

Today, 15 months later, I fear that the chain of events that started on that July 16 may endanger the well-being or even lives of another three men.

Gunasegaran was arrested in a narcotics sweep in Sentul. Two hours later, he was dead.

His sister R. Ganga Gowri, who I met for the first time this Tuesday, was understandably shocked and traumatised. She did not believe that Gunasegaran died from a “drug overdose” as reported.

She did not let her malcontent sit idle however; this lady bravely made an effort to locate other individuals who were picked up in the raid along with Gunasegaran, to find the truth about what happened on that July 16.

As you can imagine, it’s not easy to find people who are willing to talk about witnessing any criminal acts by the police (we will soon see why). It took Ganga Gowri a month of tracking down individuals and slowly getting them to talk.

One can only imagine how much work it must have taken to persuade three men, already in trouble with the law, to speak out against the police in open court. This, though, is exactly what Ganga Gowri did.

As a result of her persistence, and in what may have been a first for an inquest into a death in custody, three men finally plucked up the courage to step forward and, in a court of law, openly testified that a policeman beat a suspect.

Witnesses: Gunasegaran kicked unconscious

According to documents provided by M. Visvanathan, the lawyer who represented Gunasegaran’s family, the three men who testified are Ravi Subramaniam, Suresh M Subbaiah and K Selvachandran.

All three men testified that Gunasegaran was beaten and kicked while detained.

Ravi was made by the police to help Gunasegaran take his fingerprints and urine sample, because the latter was in too bad shape to do so himself.

Ravi then helped Gunasegaran to a room with a chair, and was sent back to the lock-up. He then heard a chair fall. When he next saw Gunasegaran, he could not ascertain whether he was alive or dead.

Ravi also testified that a policeman promised him an early release if he would testify that Gunasegaran fell down of his own accord and was not beaten by the police.

All witnesses corroborated this account, and identified one Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib as the policeman who kicked Gunasegaran in the chest and back. There were also accusations of beatings with a rubber hose and wooden stick.

Cops walk free

On Monday, October 25, 2010, coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin gave an open verdict as to the death of Gunasegaran — stating that there was insufficient evidence to prove any cause of death; saying basically that the state had no idea how he died.

This judgment was delivered despite the eyewitness testimonies. According to a lawyer, at one point in the judgment, the coroner speculated that “the injuries could have been caused by efforts to resuscitate the deceased, even though the medical officer testified that no effort was made at resuscitation.”

Unsettled and in tears a press conference on Tuesday (I really hope you’ll take the time to watch the short video), Ganga Gowri said: “Why has there been no action taken, despite there being witnesses who saw the beatings? I have been crying since yesterday, I still cannot understand. I cannot accept what is going on.”

The last time I saw someone look so lost, numb and distraught was when I attended a similar press conference with A. Kugan’s mother.

One cannot help but marvel at the irony of Manmohan Singh’s visit. Let’s hope he’s aware.

Selvachandran beaten in front of wife and kids

Ganga Gowri was joined at this press conference by one S. Saraswathy (I have a cousin by that name), wife of Selvachandran.

Selvachandran was one of the men who placed the truth above a fear of the authorities, and decided to do his duty to the late Gunasegaran and his family by testifying in court about what he saw happen to Gunasegaran.

On Monday night, the very same day that the “open verdict” was delivered, Selvachandran would pay the price for his decision to stand up for what was right.

Saraswathy explained that at around 10pm, a group of unidentified men came banging at their door. While Selvachandran was looking for the keys, they became increasingly aggressive and broke the door down.

These men handcuffed Selvachandran, made his wife remove his sarung and replace it with a pair of pants, and then bizarrely asked her to give him a kiss (goodbye?).

They then took him outside and beat him severely in front of his wife and children.

When his poor, confused children tried to ask these men why they were taking their father, the men hurled verbal abuse at both mother and children, and continued beating Selvachandran.

They only then briefly flashed some cards showing that they were police and took off with Selvachandran in tow.

Nobody knows for sure where he is or what he is charged with — early indications suggest that one of the many laws allowing for indefinite detention without trial will or have been used.

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