NHRC probe sought into custodial death of father-son in Sathankulam

Chennai: The ruling AIADMK and the Opposition DMK have announced Rs 25 lakh each as solatium to the families of father-son duo who died in judicial custody allegedly due to police excesses in Tuticorin district two days back.

Meanwhile, DMK Lok Sabha member from Tuticorin Kanimozhi and others have demanded a probe by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into the deaths of father and son in custody at Sathankulam.

In a joint statement here, AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and joint cordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami termed the custodial deaths as unfortunate and saddening.

Stating that AIADMK would never allow such sad incidents to happen, they expressed anguish and grief over their deaths and offered their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, which had lost their two pillars–father Jayaraj and son Benicks.

They also announced an assistance of Rs 25 lakh to the bereaved family members and assured that the AIADMK would always function in upholding justice.

It may be recalled that the State government announced Rs 20 lakh assistance (Rs 10 lakh each to both the families) and said the case was being monitored by the High Court and based on its order the government would take legal action against those involved in it.

DMK president M K Stalin also announced Rs 25 lakh financial aid to the family members of in Sathankulam in Thoothukudi district.

In a statement here, such incidents involving policemen were worse than the corona pandemic. ‘Those involved in this inhumane act should be punished as per law’, he said and promised DMK’s all legal support to the bereaved family to ensure that they get justice.

Alleging that the duo were subjected to beastly attack and torture by the police, he said the medical reports also confirm the injury marks on their bodies.

‘We are expecting the post-mortem report’, Stalin said, adding, the DMK would support all legal options to bring to justice every single person who was part of this heinous attack.

He also demanded stringent punishment to those involved in the incident and wanted the Chief Minister to take responsbility for the incident. In a related development, Kanimozhi dashed off a letter to the NHRC seeking a probe against the police personnel and others who were responsible for the alleged custodial deaths of the father and son.

“It is alleged that while the police were assaulting Jayaraj and Benicks in the guise of investigation, the police officials had inserted a baton into the anus of Bennicks that had triggered uncontrolled bleeding. The police had also beaten up Jayaraj and had kicked him on his chest multiple times with their shoes,” she said in her letter.

Kanimozhi said it was also alleged that when the police took them to obtain fitness certificates, the doctor had refused to provide them, but the Inspector of the Sathankulam police station had coerced the doctor to issue the same, disregarding their health conditions.

Even when the duo were taken to the Judicial Magistrate’s house for remand it was alleged that they were placed at least 50 m away from the Magistrate and were surrounded by policemen.

“As such there is overwhelming direct and corroborative evidence that the police officials, the Magistrate who ordered remand, the medical officials who should have checked the health and physical fitness of Jayaraj and Benicks have collectively failed in discharging their duties,” Kanimozhi said.

Observing that from mere perusal of the facts and circumstances, it could be seen that the police disregarded basic human rights, including the right to life and dignity as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, she said the police also violated the guidelines for arrest as laid down by the Supreme Court and demanded a probe into it.

Meanwhile, taking a serious view of the custodial deaths, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court noted that police assaulting members of the public was as bad as an infection like Covid-19.

The court, which suo moto took cognisance of the incident, said justice will be delivered in the case. ‘Don’t underestimate the court,’ it said and directed the police to safeguard records and CCTV footages related to the incident.

It also directed the government to take steps to provide counselling to policemen suffering from mental stress.

 

NT Bureau