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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Tamil Nadu bars Friends of Police for its alleged involvement in Sathankulam custodial deaths

The ban comes against the backdrop of the custodial death of a father-son duo in Thoothukudi last month in which the role of FoP is being probed.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai | Updated: July 8, 2020 5:00:59 pm
Thoothukudi SP Arun Balagopalan (2nd L), Additional Superintendent of Police D Kumar (L), DSP C Prathapan (R) and police constable Maharajan (4th L, not in uniform) leave after appearing before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court for Sathankulam custodial deaths, in Madurai, June 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The Tamil Nadu government Wednesday issued a notification rescinding all activities of Friends of Police (FoP) across the state. The government order was issued after an adverse report was received from the Director-General of Police, Chennai.

The ban comes against the backdrop of the custodial death of a father-son duo in Thoothukudi last month in which the role of FoP is being probed.

Speaking to, Tirunelveli DCP Arjun Sarvanan said senior police officers in the state had asked the police stations to recall the identity cards issued to the FoP volunteers and instructed them not to engage them in any of the police-related activities.

Friends of Police is a community policing initiative aimed to bring police and the public closer. It was started in 1993 at Ramanathapuram district. It is estimated that there are around 4,000 active FoP members in police stations across Tamil Nadu.

The probe by the Tamil Nadu’s Crime Branch-CID into the deaths of shopkeeper P Jeyaraj and his son J Bennix in Sathankulam police station on the night of June 19 has zeroed in on the alleged role of six FoP members who had been “helping the Inspector and Sub-Inspectors in routine affairs”.

On July 2, the FoP community issued a statement denying their involvement in the custodial deaths of Jeyaraj and Bennix. They claimed that the volunteers in question were neither registered as FoP members nor did they attended any training sessions. “We stand in complete solidarity with the families, friends, and social circle of the victims of the tragic incident. We strongly urge everyone not to believe or spread any rumors to this effect. The law shall take its course and truth will come out,” the statement read.

Several activists and opposition leaders have demanded permanent dismantling of the organisation, alleging its wide misuse especially in rural areas and small towns.

The state Human Rights Commission had Tuesday sought a report from the Principal Secretary of the state and the Director General of Police on whether they had any legal sanction for engaging FoP for its official operations.

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