Indian national commits suicide in police custody, High Commission raises expatriate concerns

Investigations are continuing into the suicide yesterday of a 39 year-old Indian national in police custody, while the Indian High Commission today raised concerns about the treatment of some expatriates in the Maldives.

The deceased, identified by the Indian High Commission as Scariakutty Kalarikkal Yoyakim, was being held in custody on the island of Dhoonidhoo for the alleged assault of another couple with whom he had been living. Yoyakim had been employed by Crown Company and was living in the same property as the couple, as well as his wife, according to the High Commission. He is also thought to have been in the country with his son and brother.

Police Spokesperson Ahmed Haneef told Minivan News that the man was believed to have taken his life yesterday evening at about 6:50pm, though further details were unavailable at present as investigations were continuing.

Haneef said that the man may have used something to tie around his neck that would allow him to commit suicide inside the cell, but would not confirm any details until police concluded their report.

‘’Today at about 1:00pm in the afternoon his body was sent back to his country in compliance with a request from the deceased’s family,’’ he said.

Condolence gathering

The Indian High Commission confirmed that it had held a condolence gathering for Yoyakim at 5:00pm today, with 50 people in attendance. The meeting included prayers as well as a minute’s silence for the deceased, according to organisers.

A spokesperson for the commission told Minivan News that it was unaware of the nature of the man’s suicide, though the Commission understood police investigations into the death were continuing.

When contacted about the incident, Indian High Commissioner Dynaneshwar Mulay was unable to provide any additional details regarding the case. However, he did raise some concerns over the general treatment of Indian expatriates in the Maldives by the country’s police and judiciary.

Mulay claimed that alongside concerns about the treatment of some Indian expatriates in relation to the law, there were significant issues relating to “basic human rights” that needed to be addressed concerning expatriates from countries including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Mulay’s comments follow an attack last week on a Indian resort worker, who was reported to have been attacked with a hammer and mugged while staying in a hotel in Male’.  The attack was allegedly committed by a former employee of the same resort.

The victim, identified by India’s Express News Service as 24 year-old Ramakrishnan Sadanandan from Thiruvananthapuram, was reportedly attacked at 2:30pm on March 31 while staying at a local guest house in the capital.


Dhoonidhoo inmates on hunger strike

Inmates at Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial have declared themselves on hunger strike, a person familiar with the matter told Minivan News.

‘’All inmates detained in Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial, except for foreigners, have declared themselves on hunger strike,’’ the source said on conditions of anonymity. ‘’Inmates have been continuously obstructed from obtaining their rights.’’

The source claimed that the main reason of the hunger strike was because of the ‘’spoiled food’’ that had been fed to the inmates recently.

‘’All the inmates felt ill after consuming the food they were brought the day before yesterday, and the inmates complained,’’ he said. ‘’A senior police officer met with the inmates and told them that the food’s quality had been decreasing due to the change in the dollar exchange rate and that the price of products was increasing.’’

He said the police had told the inmates that the budget allocated for inmates’ food was not increased after the dollar exchange rate was altered, and promised that police would try to solve the issue.

‘’The inmates have to be brought out for walking once every two days, now inmates are brought out to walk once every week,’’ he said. ‘’The inmates have not been provided with other essential things they need such as razors, towels, brush, tooth brush, soap. The authorities have said they do not have the budget to provide those things to Maldivians, but the foreigners in this detention centre get all of them.’’

The source said the inmates have said they will continue the hunger strike “until the police meet their demands”.

Inmates started the strike yesterday at 3:00pm, the source said.

A police spokesperson denied that such incident was taking place at Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial.

Dhoonidhoo is used to detain persons accused of committing crimes pending investigation, with prison sentences mostly carried out in Maafushi.