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The Crime Branch-CID of the Tamil Nadu police on Wednesday arrested a sub-inspector after it booked six policemen on murder charges in connection with the death of a father-son duo due to alleged police torture in Sathankulam town of Thoothukudi district.
Sub-inspector Raghu Ganesh was arrested by the CB-CID officials, who took over the probe following the directions from the Madras High Court.
Earlier today, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday served notices to the state DGP and SP of Thoothukudi district. In a tweet, the NHRC said it has sought a report from the police officers, which has to “include inquest report, post-mortem examination report, medical treatment record, magisterial enquiry report and health screening report of both victims, within 6 weeks”.
The death of P Jeyaraj (62) and his son J Bennix (32) in Sathankulam has sparked a nationwide furore with the state government passing an order to transfer the probe into the deaths to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A preliminary police probe had found severe injuries in their private parts. A senior officer part of the police probe had said initial findings show the two were stripped, tortured all of June 19-20 night and a baton inserted into their rectums.
The magistrate appointed by the Madras High Court to probe the alleged custodial deaths wrote to the court saying officers of the police station concerned had destroyed evidence, did not cooperate in the investigation, and had tried to intimidate the judicial team. The magistrate’s note to the High Court confirms the torture allegations, saying witnesses had testified that “both father and son were beaten by lathis throughout the night, till early hours…”.
The police action against Jeyaraj, belonging to the powerful Nadar trader community, sprang from an argument he had with police on June 19 evening over keeping his mobile phone shop open in Sathankulam beyond the deadline of 7 pm, set as a part of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. After a patrol team took Jeyaraj to a local police station, Bennix reached there with a friend and was also taken into custody. Two days later, both were dead.
Four police officers, including two sub-inspectors, have been placed under suspension. The station inspector has been transferred. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the victim family, while DMK’s Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi declared a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for the family.
The state government also appointed two new police officers to replace the Thoothkudi SP, who has been shunted out, and the South Zone IG, who has retired from service.
As of now, Tirunelveli CB-CID DSP Anil Kumar has taken over the investigation into Jeyaraj and Bennix’s deaths, following the High Court’s orders. While the state government on Monday night transferred the case to the CBI, the court said the CB-CID should probe, following concern over possibility of disappearance of the evidence before the CBI takes over.
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