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Tamil Nadu custodial deaths: Friends of Police deny role of their volunteers

Jeyaraj’s wife Selvarani, in her complaint, has stated that alongside the Sathankulam police officers, there were volunteers of FOP who took turns to torture her husband and son Bennicks.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai | Published: July 2, 2020 6:01:28 pm
tamil nadu custodial deaths, Sathankulam police station custodial deaths, Jeyaraj and bennicks, tamil nadu police, tn police, Jeyaraj (left), his son Bennix died on June 22

Friends of Police (FoP), a community policing initiative aimed to bring police and public closer, has denied any involvement in the custodial deaths of a father and son at Sathankulam police station as alleged.

Deceased Jeyaraj’s wife Selvarani, in her complaint, has stated that alongside the Sathankulam police officers, there were volunteers of FOP who took turns to torture her husband and son Bennicks. There were many eyewitnesses who have said that members of the FoP were at the station when Jeyaraj and Bennicks were in custody, she has further said.

Refuting Selvarani’s claims, FoP Thursday issued a statement claiming that the volunteers in the question are neither registered as FoP members nor have attended any training sessions.

“There have been a few news reports alleging the involvement of Friends of Police (FoP) volunteers in the Sathankulam case. We vehemently deny these rumours. We understand that the local police station has enlisted “volunteers” for corona-related work. They are not members of FoP. All volunteers cannot be branded as FoP members. The volunteers in question have neither been registered as FoP members, nor have they attended any training sessions or been issued any FoP Identity card,” the statement read.

The statement from the organisation comes a few hours after #BanFriendsofPolice started trending on Twitter. DMK leader MK Stalin said the CB-CID should probe all the accused in the incident, including the volunteers of Friends of Police.

In the statement, the FoP organisation added that there is a strict procedure in place for membership and a stringent code of conduct for induction into FOP. They alleged that certain outfits have infiltrated FoP with images of fake/unauthorised Identity cards.

“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 rumours to this effect. The law shall take its course and the truth will come out.

“FoP is seeking details from the authorities about what prima facie appears to be a case of false representation and unauthorised use of the FoP’s name. Appropriate legal action will be initiated against anyone masquerading as FoP members and tarnishing the fair name of our organisation,” the statement added.

The CB-CID has arrested five police officers in connection with the incident. The accused officers have been booked under sections 302, 301 and 342 of the IPC. On Thursday, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to provide security and grant paid leave for the police eyewitness Revathy of the Sathankulam police station.

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