There are grounds to indict police for the murder of a man and his son arrested in Tamil Nadu earlier this month for keeping their store open beyond curfew during the lockdown. coronavirus, said the Madras High Court today based on post-mortem reports.
Two police officers are “on hold” and a police officer has been suspended for allegedly attempting to block the investigation of the deaths in Santhankulam in Tuticorin, accused of being severely beaten and tortured in detention. All three were summoned by the High Court today.
The High Court instituted contempt proceedings against Deputy Police Superintendent C Prathapan, Additional Deputy Police Superintendent D Kumar and Constable Maharajan after a magistrate accused them of trying to hinder his investigation.
“There is nothing you can do to us,” said Constable Maharajan, according to the magistrate’s report to the court.
Jeyaraj, 59, and her son Beniks, 31, were arrested on June 19 for keeping their mobile phone store open 15 minutes past the hours allowed. Police said the two men had fought, verbally abused and rolled on the street while resisting the arrest.
The two men were allegedly subjected to brutal torture in police custody. Their families say they suffered serious internal and external injuries, including rectal bleeding.
Beniks was admitted to the hospital at 7.45 p.m. on June 22. He died around 9 p.m., according to a calendar published by the police last night. Her father was admitted around 10:30 p.m. the same evening. Jeyaraj died early the next day at 5:40 a.m.
The deaths generated waves of indignation and calls for murder against the police involved. Activists, politicians and celebrities have called for justice.
So far, the police have only recorded one suspicious death. The state government turned the investigation over to the CBI.