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Content Warning: Violence and sexual abuse.
The family of the two men killed in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district is demanding that two Sub-Inspectors of police, both attached to the district’s Sathanamkulam police station, be charged with murder.
The alleged custodial death of a father and son took place between June 22 and 23. Reports say that 59-year-old Jayaraj was arrested for keeping his mobile phone store open beyond permissible hours on June 19. When his 31-year-old son Emmanuel Benicks went to get him released, the police took him also into custody.
They were also accused of abusing the police and threatening to kill them. The pair was allegedly tortured and beaten up after being taken to a sub-jail in the city of Kovilpatti.
Family and friends also claim there were severe injuries in the rectum area and other signs of sexual abuse. While Bennicks fell ill and died at the Kovilpatti General Hospital on June 22, his father died on the morning of June 23 in the same hospital.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, which took up the case, has now ordered a post-mortem by three government doctors, which will be video graphed, for evidence. Chief Minister E Palaniswami, who also heads the police force, has announced a Rs 20 lakh compensation to each family and a government job for a family member.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also spoke out about the incident on Friday, condoling the deaths and said it was a tragedy when protectors “turn into oppressors”.
“Police brutality is a terrible crime. It’s a tragedy when our protectors turn into oppressors. I offer my condolences to the family of the victims and appeal to the government to ensure justice for Jeyaraj and Fenix,” he tweeted.
Relatives of two traders had finally accepted the bodies on Thursday, expressing hope they would get justice and following assurances given by the officials.
The National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) in its “India: Annual Report on Torture 2019” stated that a total of 1,731 persons died in custody in 2019, which amounts to about five persons dying on a daily basis, Stay Cautious.