TN Custodial Killings: Accused Police Officers to be Prosecuted for Murder

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Thoothukudi S.P. Arun Balagopalan, centre, Additional Superintendent of Police D. Kumar, left, DSP C. Prathapan, right arriving to appear before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in connection with the Sathankulam custodial deaths, in Madurai on June 30. — PTI

Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India

CHENNAI – Hearing the case of custodial death of Jayaraj and his son Bennix on June 22-23, Madras High Court judges, Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi, observed that prima facie it appears that there are sufficient materials to make out a case for murder against the police officers stated to have been involved in these custodial killings.

Jayaraj and his son Bennix were arrested on June 19 for purported violation of the COVID-19 curfew.  Later the father-son duo died in the police custody. There were allegations of police brutality and inadequate medical treatment that lead to their death.

Ever since details about the brutal torture meted out to the duo in the custody that eventually led to their death came into public domain, there has been a nationwide outrage against the horrific incident. There is a call for exemplary punishment for the brutes in the uniform.

A preliminary report was submitted by judicial magistrate No. 1, Kovilpatti to the Madras High Court after conducting the probe against the three officers stated to have been involved in the custodial deaths of father and son duo at Santhakulam police station, Thoothukudi.

The judicial magistrate, in its report, informed the Court that the other police officers were either indifferent or had attempted to intimidate the Magistrate when queries were made, including on where the lathis used for custodial torture were.

The magistrate informed the Court that a head constable, Revathy, who was initially afraid of speaking about the case and reluctant to even sign her statement, later, came forward to spill the beans to nail the erring police officers.

The head constable who deposed before the magistrate said that Jayaraj and Bennix were beaten until dawn and that the lathis used by the police personnel were bound to be covered with blood stain.

The Court ordered the Thoothukudi Collector to ensure safety of the Revathy and her family and directed that her statement be recorded separately.

The judicial magistrate also informed the Court that the three police officers of the Sathankulam Police Station had been trying to obstruct the probe which prompted the Court to order to initiate contempt proceedings against them.

The judicial magistrate also informed the Court that the Sathankulam police are taking advantage of the delay in investigation and are “attempting to cause disappearance of the evidence.”

This made the Court to task the Deputy Superintendent of Police, CB-CID, Tirunelveli, Anil Kumar, to act as the Investigating Officer until the CBI takes over the investigation.

The Court directed the judicial magistrate to hand over all relevant files of the case, the original statement given by head constable Revathy and the preliminary post-mortem reports. It also demanded the original enquiry report in a sealed cover once it was prepared.

The matter will be taken up on July 2.

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