Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Comrade Arumugam Died in Hands of Japanese Kempeitai

The Straits Times on the 10th May 1946 reported the Inspector of Indian Section, Vellu Pillai, who responsible to carry out tortures towards Ganapathy was committed to stand trial at the Assizes on three counts of abetment in voluntary causing grievous hurt, causing grievous hurt and causing hurt by H. A Forrer, District Judge and Magistrate, in the Seventh Police Court.

It also reported that preliminary inquiry into tentative murder charge against the same person shall start on the 10th May 1942 before Forrer in the Seventh Police Court.

Vellu Pillai was represented by M.J Namazie. Seven detectives and constables who worked under him before and after occupation gave evidence for the prosecution. Many of them were working for Detective Bureau in Robinson Road, Singapore.  
ST-10th May 1946
On the 3rd July 1946, ST reported that Vellu Pillai had caused the death of a detainee - Arumugam by repeated beating during Japanese occupation. K.Vadivellu Pillai (or in some reports referred as Vellu Pillai) was on trial of murder at the Assizes before Justice Worley with special jury empanelled for the trial.

Outlining the case, the prosecution R.H Green stated that in February 1942, Pillai worked for the Japanese as Head of the Indian section. In March 1942, Pillai was instrumental in the arrest of some suspected Communists. Among them was Ganapathy, Letchumanan and Arumugam.

According to Prof. Suba Veerapandian, Letchumanan had took part in Anti-Hindi Agitation in Tamil Nadu under E.V Ramasamy of Justice Party in 1937 (video timeline : 13.42)
(source -   

According to Green, Arumugam was never charged with any offense. He was found dead in police custody and his body was removed in sack.

Pillay accused Arumugam for being a Communist which repeated denied by Arumugam. Pillai ordered a Malay policeman Abdul Hamid to beat him with belt. Hamid obeyed and used the belt lightly, whereafter, Pillay took belt from Hamid gave Arumugam a severe beating. After that Arumugam was allowed to return to his cell. It was only occasion he was able to walk to his cell unassisted. Again on the same day, Arumugam was brought before Pillai who gave another severe beating.

The following day, the process was repeated after which Arumugam was brought before a Japanese officer Toyoda, who used a Kandar stick on Arumugam.

Pillay was accused of beating Arumugam in 16 occasion which resulted Arumugam to die in his cell. His death was reported by his fellow detainees. J. Braga appeared as lawyer for Pillai.

ST-3rd July 1946
Rubber plantation workers using kandar stick to carry latex

Dwelling further into Arumugam's death incident, ST on the 11th May 1946 reported under heading "Indian Beaten 20 Days Died in Cell" that evidence on Arumugam's death was given in the Seventh Police Court. 

The policeman Abdul Hamid who gave evidence against Vellu Pillai told the court that Arumugam was arrested under the instruction by Vellu Pillai, shortly after Japanese occupied Singapore. Vellu wanted Arumugam to admit that he was a Communist. According to Hamid, Arumugam was usually beaten with belt, rottan and kandar stick. Vellu would beat Arumugam with belt and rottan and eventually sent him to Toyoda who then beat Arumugam with kandar stick. Hamid would carry back Arumugam to his cell unconscious after each beating session which terminated in Toyoda's room. At end of first week, Arumugam's back became raw and his health deteriorated. The following week Arumugam's health deteriorated that he crawled or had to be assisted when he wanted to move.

Hamid continued that Arumugam never confessed that he was a Communist. Arumugam died about a week after he was given last beating. The body was put in a sack which was sewn up and taken away.

The inquiry against Vellu Pillai was being conducted by Lt. Col. W. Totman before H.A Forrer while M.J Namazie for the defence.  

11th May 1946

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