The custodial death of a father-son duo in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu sparked tensions in the district on June 23 (Tuesday).
The deceased were identified as Jayaraj (59) and his son Bennix (31) of Sathankulam in the district. They had owned a mobile shop in the town.
According to police, Jayaraj and Bennix were booked on the charges of violating the COVID-19 curfew restrictions and deterring a public servant from discharging his duties. They were lodged in Kovilpatti sub-jail on June 20.
According to prison officials, Bennix complained of chest pain on June 22 evening and was admitted to a government hospital in Kovilpatti.
“Within a few minutes, he died without responding to the treatment. After a few hours, Jayaraj complained of fever and he was taken to the same hospital, where he died on June 23 morning,” the prison officials claimed.
Preliminary investigations have confirmed that the father and son had suffered severe injuries on their knees.
Meanwhile, Jayaraj’s wife Selvarani said her husband and son were beaten to black and blue at Sathankulam police station which led to their death.
“On the night of June 19, the police, who had been on patrol, asked my husband to shut the shop as it was open after the stipulated time,” said Selvarani.
“Soon they shut the shop and came back home. The next day evening, when both of them were in the shop, Sub-Inspector Balakrishnan and Jesuraj had dragged my husband out of the shop and pulled him towards their jeep,” Selvarani said.
“When Binnix and a few others who had witnessed the incident sought the reason for his arrest, the police asked my son to come to the police station,” she said.
So, Binnix and a few other traders went to the Sathankulam station only to see Jayaraj being beaten by the police
“Bennix questioned the police and told them that he (Jayaraj) was not well. But the police started to beat my son as well,” she said, alleging that the police had asked some volunteers to assault Bennix. “My son and husband suffered severe injuries on their backs and knees,” she said.
Selvarani has filed a complaint with the Sathankulam Judicial Magistrate seeking action against the Sathankulam police and the volunteers who assaulted her husband and son. She also demanded to file a case on the charges of murder against the police officials.
A senior police official in Tuticorin district said the department had suspended two sub inspectors, against whom the traders and family members had made serious allegations. Also, all the officers, including the Inspector, have been transferred to various places.
The official added that the police booked cases against the father and son only after they had engaged in an argument with the police. Bennix had pushed a police officer on June 19 night over an argument between them, the official alleged.
All shops to be shut in TN on June 24
The suspicious death of the father-son duo has prompted a traders’ association to announce the shutting of all the shops across the state on June 24.
In solidarity with the family, Tamil Nadu Traders Association president T Vellaiyan said shops across the state would be shut on Wednesday, demanding justice for the family.