Book policemen for murder, say family of custodial death victims

Shops in Thoothukudi district remain shut; advocates, party cadre stage demo

June 25, 2020 12:59 am | Updated 12:59 am IST - TIRUNELVELI

Family members of a man and his son, who died in jail allegedly due to torture in police custody, on Wednesday demanded registration of a murder case against the inspector, two sub-inspectors and constables of Sattankulam police station in Thoothukudi, instead of being offered monetary compensation.

Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate-I M.S. Bharathidasan on Wednesday, met the sisters and relatives of Jayaraj and his son Benicks, who died in judicial custody after allegedly being tortured by the Sattankulam police. The relatives told the Magistrate that they would accept the bodies only after a case of murder was registered against Inspector Sridhar, Sub-Inspectors Balakrishnan and Raghu Ganesh and other police constables attached to the Sattankulam police station.

The judicial magistrate, however, apparently told them that he could only inquire into the events that led to the ‘suspicious death’ of Jayaraj and Benicks and the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) would proceed with the inquiry further, based on the findings of the post-mortem and his inquiry.

“Since the High Court is monitoring the inquiry of this case, truth will come out and justice will prevail,” he told the grieving family members, during the marathon inquiry that lasted for more than three hours.

In the presence of the judicial officer, relatives were allowed to take a look at the bodies for injuries, if any, around 4.30 p.m.

Benicks’ sisters, wailing inconsolably while waiting near the mortuary, said that their father and brother were law abiding citizens.

“My brother told me over the phone that the police, after thrashing our father, had arrested him. A few minutes later, the police had also arrested my brother and took them to the police station, where they were beaten up till 1.30 a.m. (on June 20). Even though our uncle requested the police to release them so that they could be admitted in a private hospital for treatment, the police refused,” alleged Persis, one of the sisters of Benicks. She charged that the police “murdered” her father and brother. “We were making arrangements for Benicks’ marriage in December, but now we are going to garland his body,” Ms. Persis said.

Condemning the “custodial deaths”, many shops in the district remained closed as per the announcement made by the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peravai, led by T. Vellaiyan.

A section of the lawyers of Tirunelveli Bar Association, led by its president Siva Sooryanarayanan, staged a demonstration in front of the district court complex and a similar agitation was organised in Nagercoil and Thoothukudi also by the advocates. A group of mobile phone sellers took out a rally in Nagercoil to condemn the custodial deaths.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadre staged a demonstration near Centenary Hall in Palayamkottai.

In Thoothukudi district, more than 80% of the shops were closed, while all the shops remained closed in Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur, Sattankulam, Thattaarmadam, Nazareth, Udangudi, Meignanapuram, Eral, Srivaikundam, Arumuganeri and Authoor.

While the Congress cadre staged a demonstration in Thoothukudi, cadre of Naam Thamizhar Katchi submitted a petition in the offices of the Collector and Superintendent of Police seeking registration of case of murder against the inspector and the sub-inspectors.

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