In Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, outrage and dispersed protests continued, following a case of alleged police brutality against two men, which is believed to have resulted to their deaths while in custody.
Traders in the Southern Tamil Nadu district bowed down their shutters earlier this week, protesting the alleged custodial killing of P Jayaraj and J Bennicks father-son duo. According to eyewitness accounts, both men had suffered severe police brutality prior to their deaths.
Jayaraj was arrested by police in the town of Sathankulam (near Tuticorin) on Saturday, 27th June 2020, for keeping his cell phone store open beyond lockdown stipulations. Bennicks, was also detained for inquiring about his father after visiting the local police station.
“Detainees were sodomized and mutilated”
Both men were stripped naked and suffered beatings while in jail, which in turn broke each of their kneecaps, according to eye-witness accounts. Police personnel were also reported to have sodomized both men with their batons. The duo's mortal remains showed their genitalia had been mutilated. The family of the deceased said police returned blood-soaked clothes to their home and in the course of the interrogation asked for a change of clothes over three times.
Despite clear signs of brutal torture, a district magistrate ordered both men to be remanded to police custody, after which they died. The police said in a report that the duo died owing to a “heart failure and fever”.
The incident sparked off outrage in the community, district, and on social media, with many voices flagging it as a breach of human rights. DMK Leader and Tuticorin MP Kanimozhi K wrote to the National Commission for Human Rights asking the body to investigate the case and act against the police personnel involved.
“It is alleged that while police were assaulting Mr. Jayaraj and Mr. Bennicks in the guise of investigation, the police officials had inserted a baton into the anus of Mr. Bennicks that had triggered uncontrolled bleeding,” she wrote in her letter. “Further, the police officials had beaten Mr. Jayaraj and had kicked him on his chest multiple times with their shoes.”
DMK, AIADMK condemn the incident:
No FIR was lodged against police officers suspected to have been involved in the crime. Following the incident, a total of four police officers were put on leave.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK announced Rs 25 lakh 's compensation to the Jayaraj and Bennicks families after its government copped criticism for police brutality.
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister and party coordinator O Panneerselvam termed the deaths “very unfortunate (and) anguishing,” adding, “The AIADMK would never allow such agonizing incidents.”
But opposition leader and DMK member MK Stalin hit the government for giving the police an alleged free hand. “The deaths are a result of the AIADMK government allowing them (police) to take law into their own hands at a time when they have to ensure the safety of the public during the lockdown,” he said, in a statement. The DMK also announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the family.
The high court in Madras has asked the government to send a report in the case.