Sathankulam custodial deaths: 5 cops arrested, murder charges slapped

Thoothukudi:The Crime Branch CID (CB-CID) police arrested five suspended police personnel of Sathankulam police station, including the Inspector and two Sub-Inspectors (SI) in connection with the custodial deaths of a father-son duo after slapping murder charges against them.

The First Information Report (FIR) registered by the District police under Section 174 of CrPC (suspicious death) was altered as a murder case under Section 302 of the IPC by the CB-CID, which commenced its probe last evening following a High Court directive.

The CB-CID police booked Inspector Sridhar, two SIs Raghu Ganesh and Balakrishnan and two constables Murugan and Muthuraj under three Sections, including 302 and 301 of the IPC.

Subsequently, the CB-CID police arrested Raghu Ganesh last night. After preliminary investigations, he was produced before Thoothukudi Chief Judicial Magistrate S.Hema, who remanded him to judicial custody till 16 July.

Later, Raghu Ganesh was lodged at Perurani sub jail. Meanwhile, the CB-CID sleuths arrested Sridhar in a meticulous operation at Gangaikondam police check post in Tirunelveli district, when he attempted to escape in a car, in the wee hours of today.

Balakrishnan, Murugan and Muthuraj were also arrested from different locations, today.

The arrested cops were being questioned at the CB-CID office here after which they would be remanded in judicial custody. The arrested cops were accused of brutally assaulting P.Jayaraj (60) and his son Benicks (31) at Sathankulam police station on June 19 for keeping open their mobile phone shop in violation
of lockdown restrictions, leading to their deaths on June 22 and 23 respectively.

CB-CID sources said more arrests were likely to be made by the investigating agency. The Tamilnadu government ordered a CBI probe into the custodial deaths on Monday.

However, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, which had taken suo motu cognisance of the custodial deaths, on Tuesday directed the CB-CID to immediately begin an investigation, till the CBI takes over the probe , as there were possibilities of destroying the evidences in the case.

A woman police constable of Sathankulam police station Revathy, who was they key eye-witness, deposed before Kovilpatti JM that Jayaraj and Benicks were beaten up the entire night by the police personnel and that their blood stains could be found on the lathis and on the table in the station.

The HC, after perusing the preliminary post-mortem report and the ‘inquest’ report submitted by Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate (JM) Bharathidasan, ruled that there was prima facie material available to register a case under Sec 302 of the IPC against the police personnel responsible for the death of the father-son duo, and nominated Tirunelveli CB-CID DSP Anil Kumar as the Investigating
Officer in the case.

The custodial death of the father-son duo has sent shock waves across the country with the leaders of various political parties demanding stern action against the cops involved in the ‘brutal killings’ and the State government promising that the culprits would be punished.

NT Bureau