Five police officers have been arrested so far in the custodial death of father-son duo, P Jayaraj and J Bennicks in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district.
The Crime Branch Crime Investigation Department (CBCID), which was directed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday to take over the probe, arrested four cops — Inspector Sridhar, Sub Inspector Balakrishnan and constables Muthuraj and Murugan — today.
Inspector Sridhar has been booked under Section 302 of IPC.
Sub Inspector Ragu Ganesh, who was in suspension, was already arrested on Wednesday.
Following the Ganesh’s arrest, residents of Sathankulam, Thoothukudi were seen bursting firecrackers.
The Madras HC had transferred the case to the CBCID as an interim measure to protect evidence till the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) takes up the case, as decided by the Tamil Nadu government.
P Jeyaraj and his son J 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.
Their family said that their rectum were injured and other torture signs like tufts of hair pulled from the chest were observed.
The court, which took suo moto cognizance of the case, observed that there were chances of the evidence being tampered with and appointed CB-CID Deputy Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar to handle the case.
On Monday, the court had ordered the Revenue Department officials to take over the Sathankulam police station to protect evidences from tampering.
The court also said there was prima facie evidence to register a murder case against the Santhankulam police officials. The preliminary post-mortem report pointed to various injuries on bodies of Jeyaraj and Bennicks.
The court was also told that CCTV footage that could provide throw light on what happened at the Sathankulam Police Station on June 19, when the two men were arrested and allegedly tortured, had been deleted.
Meanwhile, the court asked the three policemen — Additional Superintendent of Police D Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police C Prathapan, and constable Maharajan — to file their explanations in four weeks, while hearing the criminal contempt case initiated against them.
The high court also took a serious view of the report by the Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate who said Maharajan made a very disparaging remark against him while the other two officers were present.
All the officials at the Sathankulam police station have been shifted out.
The custodial death of 60-year-old P Jayaraj and his 31-year-old son Bennicks has triggered massive outrage across Tamil Nadu with actor-politician Kamal Haasan blaming Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his government and calling them the “prime accused”.
DMK president MK Stalin had said in a statement that the alleged brutal assault on the two men by the police was a result of the AIADMK government allowing them to take law into their own hands at a time when they have to ensure the safety of the public during the lockdown.