Complaints against police spraying blue dye at mosque unanswered: Chugani

Published (HKT): 2020.10.19 06:00

Complaints against the police for their indiscriminate use of water cannon against non-protesters outside Kowloon Mosque last year appear to have been sucked into a black hole, says one of the victims, Mohan Chugani, who has yet to hear back from the force.

The former chair of the Indian Association told Apple Daily that he received a letter from the police on his 74th birthday on Aug. 26, informing him that the complaints have been transferred to the Independent Police Complaints Council, but the council has yet to reach out to him.

“We have wasted one whole year. What are the results of [the police’s] investigation? I have already given them all the evidence,” said Chugani.

An independent investigation, though rejected by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, must be conducted, Chugani said, adding that the only thing he wanted the police to clarify was that they had mistaken him for a protester. When asked if the police had acted correctly when they deployed cannon to fire water jets laced with pepper spray and blue dye at people gathering outside the mosque on Nathan Road last year, he said: “If they didn’t do anything wrong, why did the chief executive and the commissioner of police have to apologize to me?”

During a protest on Oct. 20, 2019, police water cannon sprayed the entrance of the mosque as they tried to disperse the crowd. But the liquid struck a number of people, including many Muslims who were there not to protest but to guard the mosque. The incident sparked outrage among local South Asians and citizens of various other ethnicities. Lam and the police later apologized.

The Hong Kong-born and raised Chugani said he was still traumatized by the ordeal. “My doctor said I was lucky that I did not face [the blue dye] directly or my eyeball would’ve fallen out,” he said. “When the blue dye hit me, it felt like my whole body was in flames. I couldn’t see anything for an hour.”

Chugani said he has to apply topical creams on his legs every day and his eyesight has deteriorated, forcing him to make regular visits to the doctor. Following the incident, Chugani, who lives in Tsim Sha Tsui, said he avoided walking past the area for some time because it brought back bad memories. When he recently saw armed riot police standing guard outside a metro station, the traumatic memory of that episode returned.

Chugani said he is in contact with people from across the political spectrum. But after the enactment of the national security law, he said he has noticed that young people have refrained from expressing themselves. He, too, censors his own words.

But he said he still wants Hong Kong to give hope to young people again. “Fear can rule, but like I said, you cannot kill a dream,” he said.

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