More than 1,000 people of Sathankulam town in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district staged a dharna Tuesday, after two persons were allegedly killed in police custody here.
The deceased have been identified as Jayaraj (59) and his son Bennix (31). Two sub-inspectors have been suspended.
According to the protesters and other local residents, Jayaraj along with Bennix ran a mobile shop named APJ in the town. On Friday, he closed his shop around 8:15 pm. Personnel from the Sathankulam police station, who were on patrol duty, reportedly pulled him up for running the store beyond the permitted time, and an argument took place.
On Saturday evening, the police personnel visited the shop again, and had an altercation with Jayaraj. When Bennix intervened, both father and son were taken to the police station, and booked under several sections of the IPC, including Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 353 (use of force to deter public servant from duty).
On Sunday, after a medical check-up, the duo was lodged in the Kovilpatti sub-jail. That evening, local residents alleged, Bennix complained of chest pain and Jayaraj had high fever. Both were taken to the Kovilpatti government hospital, where Bennix died on Monday evening and Jayaraj succumbed to respiratory illness Tuesday morning.
Jayaraj’s wife Selvarani has lodged a complaint, alleging that police brutality led to the death of her husband and son. In her complaint letter to the district criminal court and Assistant Commissioner, she said the police brutally attacked her husband and son, used curse words, and threatened to kill them. She urged them to book the police officers responsible under section 302 of the IPC and suspend them from duty.
Condemning the killing, all trader union bodies, various political outfits, activists, and the local public staged protests in various parts of the town. Kanniyakumari MP Vasanthakumar, former AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa, and other party functionaries participated in the protest. Their demands include the arrest and suspension of the police officers responsible for the incident, compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the family members of the deceased, a doctor from the protesters’ side to be allowed during the autopsy, and a government job to one member of the deceased’s family.
Speaking to reporters, Thoothukudi district collector Sandeep Nanduri said two sub-inspectors have been suspended in connection with the incident. “We have ordered a probe. The autopsy of the two bodies will take place at the Tirunelveli Medical College and Hospital in front of the Judicial magistrate. All the police officers in the Sathankulam police station will be transferred,” he said.
Tiruchendur MLA and former minister Anitha Radhakrishan alleged a similar incident had taken place a few weeks ago, and “this cannot continue further”.
Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi has written to the Director General of Police, JK Tripathy, to initiate action against the police officers concerned. She said the officers shouldn’t be transferred, but suspended. DMK leader MK Stalin took to Twitter and said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami should respond to the brutal killings.
Tamil Nadu Traders Association president T Vellaiyan has called for a full shutdown across the state Wednesday. He said the government should provide compensation of Rs 1 crore to the family.
Jayaraj is survived by his wife and three daughters.
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