In a major development, Sathankulam District Magistrate on Monday, said that said the district police administration were preventing the magistrate's inquiry into the Tuticorin custodial deaths. The magistrate court has registered a suo moto criminal contempt case in the incident, as per sources. The judge has observed that unless top police officers on-duty at the police station are transferred, the investigation cannot be free and fair and has ordered the 'hostile police officers' to appear in court on Tuesday morning at 10.30 AM.
The police had filed an FIR based on Sathankulam Head Constable Murugan’s complaint who stated that at 9.15 PM he noticed that APJ MOBILES shop was open beyond lockdown time period. As per the FIR, Murugan reportedly asked the crowd outside the shop to leave, while Jeyaraj and Bennicks refused and verbally abused the policemen, rolling on the floor hurting their knees. Moreover, the constable stated in the FIR that the father-son duo threatened to hit them as he reminded them of the lockdown, leading to the police arresting them.
On the other hand, Republic TV has accessed the CCTV footage outside father-son duo - Jayaraj and Bennicks's mobile shop in Tuticorin from the day they were arrested - June 19. The CCTV footage shows that there was no argument between the duo and the police, contradictory to police claiming that the duo had resisted arrest, arguing with the officials. Moreover, the footage shows the father - Jeyaraj walking across the street on being summoned by the police, while Bennicks is seen following shortly.
On Sunday, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami assured that the Tuticorin custodial death case will be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after seeking Madras High Court's permission in the 30 June hearing. Previously, Sathankulam police station Inspector Sridhar was suspended and four other police officers - including sub-inspectors and constables who were on duty when the two victims were allegedly tortured in custody, have already been transferred. The Madurai bench of Madras HC has said that it will not object to Tamil Nadu government's decision to seek a CBI probe, according to ANI.
P Jayaraj (59) and his son Bennicks (31) - residents of Tuticorin, were picked up for questioning by Sathankulam police on June 19 for violating lockdown rules. The duo were allegedly brutally beaten by the police in custody and then later released in a deteriorating health condition. Reports state that after sustaining severe injuries, both victims were shifted to the Kovilpatti government hospital where Beniks died on Monday evening and Jayaraj, who was diabetic, succumbed to a respiratory illness on Tuesday.