TN custody deaths: Cops arrested, face murder chargetext_fields
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Police's Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) have arrested five suspended policemen working in Sathankulam police station in Tuticorin district for the murder of P. Jeyaraj and his son J. Bennicks, officials said.
The CBCID also altered the first information report (FIR) registered on the death of Jeyaraj and Bennicks as a murder case from the earlier charge of suspicious death.
Police have registered the case as two separate murders while security has been provided for Revathy, the policewomen who had deposed before a Magistrate that the father and son were beaten throughout the June 19 night by the police at Sathankulam police station.
The court also ordered that Revathy be given leave with pay.
The five arrested policemen are: Inspector Sridhar, Sub-Inspectors Balakrishnan and Raghu Ganesh, Head Constable Murugan and Constable Muthuraj.
The police nabbed Sridhar at Gangaikondan while he was trying to escape in his car.
Ganesh was sent to custody till July 16 on late Wednesday.
The Madras High Court's Madurai Bench which suo moto took up the case, appreciated CBCID for nabbing the policemen.
The action of CBCID has created the impression that justice will be delivered, it said, as it adjourned the case.
According to Inspector General, CBCID, Shankar, 12 teams have been formed to carry out the probe into the custodial death of father and son Jeyaraj and Bennicks.
Meanwhile Abraham Mathai, founder of Harmony Foundation and former Vice Chairman of Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, welcomed the arrest of the policemen and altering the FIR to murder case.
He also said the outstanding intervention by the court has now set a precedence that the courts of justice can halt the tide of impunity that has been trying to take root lately.
He said the order to the court to revenue officials to take over the Sathankulam police station only proves that the high court was more than convinced that the police station was a "den of savages".
Jeyaraj and Bennicks had been booked for not closing their mobile shop in time on June 19 by the Sathankulam police. They were sent to judicial custody and lodged in Kovilpatti jail on June 21.
Jeyaraj died on June 22 night and Bennicks on June 23 morning in judicial custody, allegedly due to the police torture.
The High Court while hearing the case had said there was prima facie evidence to register a murder case against the Sathankulam police officials.
Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate M.S. Bharathidasan, who was asked to inquire into the case of brutal torture of Jeyaraj and his son Bennicks by the Sathankulam police on June 19 and their subsequent deaths, had submitted his report to the High Court.
Woman police constable Revathy, at the Sathankulam police station, in her deposition before Bharathidasan had said that Jeyaraj and Bennicks were beaten with batons throughout the June 19 night.
According to Bharathidasan's report, Revathy also said the victims' blood stains were on the batons of the station police officials and on tables.
She said the batons and the tables should be secured so that the evidence is not lost, the report stated.
Expressing fear that she may be targeted later, Revathy was initially reluctant to sign a printout of her statement but later on being assured of her safety, she signed it.
The court also transferred the probe into the deaths of Jeyaraj and Bennicks to the CBCID to gather and protect the evidence till the case is handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
It has also initiated criminal contempt cases against three police officials - Additional Superintendent of Police Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police Prathapan and constable Maharajan - for their behaviour at the Sathankulam police station in front of Magistrate Bharathidasan.