Four police officers in Cianjur, West Java have been hospitalized due to burn injuries they sustained while securing a student protest in the regency, with one officer reportedly suffering particularly severe injuries from being set on fire.
Yesterday afternoon, college students from various student organizations gathered outside Cianjur’s Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) office to protest what described as the faltering quality of education in the region.
The protest descended into chaos when somebody from the crowd of protesters allegedly threw a plastic bag containing fuel towards police officers, which then exploded into flames when coming into contact with a flaming tire the officers were trying to put out.
Video footage of the incident, which have gone viral online, show the moment the bag of fuel was thrown as well as people frantically trying to put out the fire that engulfed one officer’s entire body (we are not including the video due to its highly graphic and disturbing nature).
Police say the officer, identified as Adjunct Inspector Erwin, is being treated at the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in Jakarta after he sustained burns to 80% of his body.
The other three officers suffered less severe burn injuries and are being treated at the Sayang Cianjur General Hospital.
At a press conference today, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said 30 protesters have been arrested so far. They could be charged with assault of a police officer causing bodily harm, which is punishable by up to eight years in prison. Should the worst happen to the hospitalized officers, the perpetrators could be charged with premeditated murder for which they might face the death penalty.