IPOH: The long-term marginalisation of the Indian poor has led to the creation of a sub-culture which revolves around violence and involvement in criminal organisations.
Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar said the government must understand that members of such gangs should be drawn back into a conventional lifestyle instead of "being shot dead".
Jeyakumar's views echoed similar concerns raised by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, P Waythamoorthy, over the recent fatal shooting of five suspected Indian “Gang O4” members in Penang.
"I think, I suspect, of course I got no proof, but I suspect some of them [gang members] were killed because it is too dangerous for the police to keep them alive and put them on trial [because] they will be implicated," Jeyakumar said in a recent interview with theantdaily.
"If I were a police chief and you are an Indian gang leader who has been paying me money, to catch you and put you on trial runs the risk of you saying something about me.
"It is safer for me to knock you off and say you put a gun on me," claimed Jeyakumar in the wake of an intensified police crackdown on violent crimes under the codename "Ops Cantas".
Waythamoorthy had reportedly alleged that the suspects were shot at point blank range on Aug 19, based on bullet wounds evident on subsequent photos released by the police – despite authorities’ insistence that they had acted in self-defence during the early morning raid on a house in Sungai Nibong, Penang.
For the record, Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the five – J Gobinath, 31, R Ramesh, 27, A Vinut, 23, M Suresh, 25, and M Gobinath, 21 – had committed armed crimes in the country.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself had rebuked Waythamoorthy for his statement, joining the chorus of calls from three other Cabinet members for him to "toe the line" or resign from his position.
"Looking at the photos, I do not think anyone in the right frame of mind would believe that there was actually a shoot-out between the police team and the suspects.
"The injuries do not describe a shoot-out. The photos show they [suspects] were shot at point blank range," Waythamoorthy said.
Subsequent footages of the elaborate funeral procession held for the suspects have raised further questions over the authorities’ role in clamping down on their activities. Gang numbers and their various affiliations were blatantly displayed by the participants in the procession.
"These are the kinds of funeral they [gang members] have and the police are allowing it, which means the police are co-existing with these guys.
"I suspect that in some cases the police kill these guys because dead man tells no tales," claimed Jeyakumar.
The Home Ministry had on Aug 29 gazetted a list of 49 illegal organisations under Section 5(1) of the Societies Act 1966, with some 40,313 registered gang members nationwide.
This move will allow authorities to seize all assets belonging to any of the gang members apart from pressing charges with or involvement in criminal activities.
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