Tamil Nadu

‘Police behaviour during judicial inquiry intimidating, indifferent’

CCTV at station calibrated to overwrite day’s footage, report says

An intimidating ambience was sought to be created by indifferent police personnel when Kovilpatti judicial magistrate M. S. Bharathidasan conducted an inquiry at the Sattankulam police station in connection with the custodial torture of trader P. Jayaraj and his son J. Benicks and their subsequent death.

Recounting multiple instances of non-cooperation, Mr. Bharathidasan, in his four-page report, to the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) said while a woman head constable revealed that the father and son were tortured with lathis and there was blood on the lathi and the table at the station, the police at first refused to hand over the batons.

The Sattankulam police did not cooperate with the inquiry and tried to create an intimidating ambience.

The report said that right from the time the judicial magistrate stepped into the Sattankulam police station, the police officers did not acknowledge his presence and showed an indifferent attitude.

Further, he said that Additional Superintendent of Police D. Kumar and DSP C. Pratapan exhibited an intimidating posture. When asked for the case dairies, the senior officers addressed their subordinates to get them in a reprimanding tone. The report said that the documents were brought to the judicial magistrate in a delayed manner. When the CCTV footage was assessed, it came to light that it was calibrated in such a manner that everyday’s record would get overwritten the following day.

‘No footage’

There was no footage of the day of the incident, even though there was adequate space for storage in the CCTV. During the inquiry, police constables appeared to be agitated and did not cooperate.

The woman police constable, however, revealed that the father and son were tortured the entire night. She initially refused to sign her statement but later agreed after she was assured of protection, the judicial magistrate stated in his report. While police constable Maharajan gave contradictory statements saying that the lathi was at his native place, then (later at) police quarters and even told the judicial magistrate that he cannot do anything, another policeman ran away from the inquiry.

Given the animosity at the police station, the judicial magistrate said that he had to wind up the inquiry early that day. Even as the inquiry was on, the policemen were taking videos of the inquiry, he said in his report.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:17:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/police-behaviour-during-judicial-inquiry-intimidating-indifferent/article31958271.ece

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