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By Saradha | Jul 02, 2020 01:48 PM

Two Sathankulam traders, P Jeyaraj (58) and his son Bennicks (38) died on June 22, two days after they were released from police custody. They were arrested by Sathankulam police for keeping their shops open after the permitted hours of coronavirus lockdown. 

Sathankulam Custodial Deaths: All you Need to Know about Investigation

The family and friends of the two men alleged that they were tortured and sexually abused while they were in custody. It spurred a huge outrage in the state and soon in the whole country. The Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy announced a compensation of 10 lakh to the victims’ families. 

Initially the accused officers were transferred but as demand grew further, on June 24, the Thootukudi police suspended 2 sub- inspectors in the Sathankulam Police station. 

The Madurai bench of Madras High Court looked into the matter and demanded a status report from the Superintendent of Police, Thootukodi. On June 26, SP Arun Balagopalan submitted the postmortem report but did not submit it in a sealed cover as opposed to the order citing that they were unable to do so due to the lockdown restrictions that are in place. 

On the same day, the Kovilpatti Judicial magistrate, Bharathidasan was asked to conduct an inquiry. The judicial magistrate was asked to acquire jail records, the postmortem report and CCTV footage from the police station as well as jail and submit the same on June 30 during the hearing. 

The Judicial Magistrate started conducting the inquiry on June 28. He alleged that the police had refused to cooperate with him and had refused to hand over the requisite documents, CCTV footage, case diary and the station general diary. He lodged a complaint with the Registrar of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court against police officials Additional Superintendent of Police (ADSP) Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police C Prathaban and police constable Maharajan on June 29, in which he pointed out  that one of the police officers had made a disparaging remark against him, using crude language to say that he would not be able to do anything. 

The Tamil Nadu government officially passed the case to CBI on June 29. In an unprecedented turn of events, the court also asked the Tuticorin District Collector to depute officials from the Revenue Department to take control of the Sathankulam police station on the same day in order to avoid further tampering of evidence. 

After being slammed by the Madurai Bench of Madras HC for not cooperating with the Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate for the judicial inquiry, the Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan appointed 27 new police personnel to Sathankulam police station and ordered the transfer of Additional Superintendent of Police D Kumar and DSP C Prathapan while he suspended police constable Maharajan.

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court heard the case on June 30 and ruled that there were prima facie evidences to slap murder charges against the police personnel who were responsible for the custodial deaths of the father and son duo at Sathankulam police station in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.

The Judicial Magistrate’s report played an important role in the ruling. In his report, he said that though the hard disks of the cameras installed at the police station had 1TB storage capacity, the data was being erased automatically. The judicial magistrate’s report said a woman constable (Revathy, Head Constable), who was an eye witness to the incident, was initially terrified to reveal the truth but then confirmed that the victims were “repeatedly thrashed by the policemen for the entire night”. The report added that blood stains were visible on the lathis and table inside the station.    

The court also initiated criminal contempt against three police personnel against three police officers who allegedly prevented the Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate from conducting the inquiry.

The two- member bench of Justices which was headed by Justices P.N. Prakash and B. Pugalendi cited that there is a possibility of evidence being tampered with and hence requested an interim transfer of the case to the Crime Branch- Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID). The Case papers were handed over to the CB-CID on June 30. 

On July 1, the CB-CID formed 12 special teams and conducted inquiries with multiple persons involved in the case including the family of Jayaraj and Bennix, the doctor who examined them at the Sathankulam government hospital and the woman police official who had been witness to their assault at the Sathankulam police station.

The CB- CID has arrested five policemen in connection to the case so far. While suspended inspector Srithar, sub-inspector Balakrishnan and constable Muthuraj were arrested early Thursday morning, SI Raghu Ganesh and head constable Murugan were arrested late Wednesday night. Srithar was in charge of the Sathankulam police station at the time of the incident.

Various celebrities and politicians including Actor Rajinikanth, DMK MP from Thootukudi, Kanimozhi among others have been closely watching the developments and raising concerns about the investigation.

அரசியல், விளையாட்டு, நாட்டுநடப்பு, குற்ற சம்பவங்கள், வர்த்தகம், தொழில்நுட்பம், சினிமா, வாழ்க்கை முறை என பலதரப்பட்ட சுவாரஸ்யமான செய்திகளை தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கு கிளிக் செய்யவும்      



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