Joel Malu, a Congolese student, died in police custody after suffering cardiac arrest in southern Bangalore city, officials say, a claim demonstrators refute, accusing police of falsely detaining the student.

Police personnel beat up a man who was protesting the death of an African national in police custody, in Bangalore on August 2, 2021.
Police personnel beat up a man who was protesting the death of an African national in police custody, in Bangalore on August 2, 2021. (AFP)

At least six nationals of African countries were wounded during scuffle with police in India's southern Bangalore city over the alleged custodial killing of a Congolese student, an official said.

Joel Malu, 27, was detained by police over charges of possessing a small cache of banned psychotropic ecstasy pills, but died in custody early on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest, an officer said.

"He was diagnosed with Bradycardia and was administered with several rounds of CPR and other life-saving interventions but died due to a suspected cardiac arrest," the officer said.

"Investigation into the death is being conducted as per NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) guidelines including inquest by a judicial magistrate. The investigation has been transferred to CID (Crime Investigation Department)," Bangalore Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said on Twitter.

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Africans protest 'custodial killing'

Following his death, several nationals of African countries staged a demonstration outside the police station and scuffled with policemen, which led to the assault of an officer.

The demonstrators refuted the police claim that Malu had died of cardiac arrest and accused them of falsely detaining him, before police used batons to push back the protesters and arrested a dozen demonstrators.

Police said they have opened an inquest into the death amid claims that the deceased student was illegally living in India after his passport and visa expired in 2017.

Daily discrimination

The Hindu newspaper said protesters were members of the "Pan African Federation", a group set up to protect the rights of African students and professionals in the city.

Nationals of African countries often accuse Indian police of racial bias and harassment.

Many claim that they are routinely detained over fabricated charges of drug peddling and face daily discrimination.

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Source: AFP