Tamil Nadu

Prison record indicates father and son were tortured in custody

Extract of entry made at the Government hospital at Kovilpatti   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

An entry believed to have been made in the Kovilpatti sub-jail at the time of admitting remand prisoners P. Jayaraj, 58, and his son J. Bennicks, 31, on June 20, 2020, suggests that the father-son duo was tortured before being brought to prison.

Going by a prison record accessed by The Hindu on Saturday, both victims had multiple bruises in the gluteal region, and bleeding injuries. Bennicks had injuries on his wrists and legs which were visibly swollen. Jayaraj informed the prison officials that he was suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes.

The Sattankulam police picked up Jayaraj and his son after a heated argument over closure of their shops during the lockdown. They were taken to the police station and booked on charges of disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant, preventing a public servant from discharging duties by using criminal force and also negligent act that was likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.

They were produced in a magistrate court and remanded in judicial custody. The police took them to the sub-jail where the visible bodily injuries were entered in the register. Jayaraj and Bennicks reported health issues after which prison officials first called in a doctor and then shifted them to the Government Hospital where they died.

The incident sparked instant protests from traders, human rights activists and political parties who accused the police of high-handedness and demanded that a case be registered against those responsible for the excesses. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, that took suo moto cognisance of the incident, has ordered a court-monitored investigation into the case.

According to sources in the Prison Department, a judicial magistrate visited the sub-jail in Kovilpatti and took statements from officials who were on duty when Jayaraj and his son were brought by the police. The Magistrate also recorded the statements from inmates who had knowledge about the sequence of events in the prison till the two remand prisoners were taken to the Government Hospital.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:33:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/crime/article31936380.ece

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