New govt but same old police, DAP’s Ramasamy says after Batu Arang shootout

PETALING JAYA: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy today urged Putrajaya to launch a full inquiry into the recent shootout between the police and three others which resulted in their deaths in Batu Arang, Selangor.

This comes in the wake of a dispute over the police’s version of events, including their claim that the wife of one of the men was present during the incident.

It was reported that the police had ordered a car carrying the three men – Sri Lankan national Janarthanan Vijayaratnam, his brother-in-law Thavaselvan and Maghendran Santhirasegaran – to pull over at Bandar Country Homes, but that they had ignored the order, sparking a 7km chase.

The police said the men were robbers, two of whom had opened fire on the officers during the chase, forcing them to return fire.

However, Selangor police chief Noor Azam Jamaluddin denied that Janarthanan’s wife, Moganambal Govindasamy, had also been present and that she was detained by the police.

This was alleged by the families’ lawyer, Sivahnanthan Ragava, who also claimed that the police had refused to provide any information on Moganambal’s whereabouts.

P Ramasamy.

Ramasamy said while the police were sticking to their version of events, the family members of the deceased might have a different story to tell.

He also accused the police of repeating an “old narrative” in their version of events.

“The public must know exactly what happened in the Rawang shootings. Too many incidents of police shootouts resulting in the deaths of suspected robbers have not gone beyond the testimony of the police.

“Other than the versions provided by the police, there have been no alternative interpretations as to how the so-called robbers met their fate,” he said in a statement.

To date, he added, no serious enquiries had been held for cases where people died in police shootings, to hold the police accountable and determine if the shootings were justified.

He said there had been no change in police operations despite the assurances of top cop Abdul Hamid Bador.

“Deaths in custody, deaths resulting from police shootouts and other abuses emanating from the uniformed personnel are acting against public interest.

Kasthuri Patto.

“The Batu Arang killings are not the first and are certainly not going to be the last. What is important is that the government must initiate a full inquiry as to really what happened.”

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto meanwhile said the conflicting versions of events had allowed for “all kinds of conspiracy events to stem”, especially over Moganambal and her whereabouts.

She suggested that the police be equipped with body cameras so that videos and images can be used as evidence in investigations, inquiries and court proceedings.