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Tamil Nadu custodial deaths: Top cop retires, another shunted out; new faces also tainted

The new appointments seem to be yet another tool for the opposition DMK to hit out at the ruling party.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: June 30, 2020 8:03:05 pm
Judicial team probing torture ‘harassed’, HC orders takeover of Tamil Nadu police station Jeyaraj (left), his son Bennix died on June 22

Following the custodial deaths of a father and son at Thoothkudi police station and subsequent harassment of a judicial magistrate probing the case, the Tamil Nadu government Tuesday appointed two new police officers to replace the Thoothkudi Superintendent of Police, who has been shunted out, and the South Zone IG, who has retired from service. However, the new officers replacing the two — S Murugan as South Zone IG and S Jeyakumar as SP — are tainted as well.

S Murugan, IG, South Zone, is accused of sexual harassment

A sexual harassment case against IG Murugan was one of the prominent controversies that the Opposition had used against the AIADMK government. The alleged victim was a gazetted-rank woman officer who worked under Murugan. In September 2018, the victim had moved the petition in the Madras High Court seeking the transfer of the case from Tamil Nadu to another state after she was denied justice from the home departmental police.

At the time, Murugan was serving as the joint director of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), a powerful position handling some of the high-profile corruption charges against senior ruling party leaders, including top ministers. Even though the state government had first opposed the move of transferring the case to another state, a division bench had issued the transfer order in August 2019.

The alleged victim had approached the court after the department did not act on her complaint.

Citing merit in the case and considering the position taken by the government in favour of the male officer, the court had transferred the case to Telangana for investigation, which was later stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal by Murugan, one of the many such court orders that favoured him, resulting in delay the probe.

S Jeyakumar, Thoothukudi SP, is accused in gutkha scam

At a time when Sathankulam custodial murder probe has been transferred to CBI, the new Thoothukudi SP, Jeyakumar, has faced CBI interrogations lasting hours in the notorious gutkha scam.

Opinion: Death in custody

Earlier, serving as the deputy commissioner of police attached to the Central Crime Branch, there were many accused in the multi-crore gutkha scam along with Jeyakumar, from sub-inspectors to former city police commissioner S George and even the recently retired Tamil Nadu DGP T K Rajendran.

The gutkha scam was about the illegal sale of gutkha that was banned in Tamil Nadu since 2013. The case was about gutkha manufacturers allegedly bribing ministers and officials to store and sell gutkha.

Impact of new appointments

The sexual harassment case against Murugan and the gutkha scam involving Jeyakumar were among some of the major controversies that shook the AAIDMK government after the demise of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The new appointments seem to be yet another tool for the opposition DMK to hit out at the ruling party.

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