The Sathankulam police’s version of events in the Jayaraj and Bennix custodial deaths case has been inconsistent with eyewitness accounts. And now, CCTV visuals have emerged that show the real version of events is much closer to what eyewitnesses had said. These visuals reveal that the police have clearly lied in the FIR. While the police claimed that the father-son duo had ‘rolled on the ground’ causing internal injuries to themselves – no such thing happened.
CCTV footage from a shop, King Electricals, next to Bennix’s mobile shop in Sathankulam, show many discrepancies in the police’s version of events. The visuals start at 21.33 hrs (as per the time stamp on the footage) and shows a portion of the entrance to Bennix’s shop and the road in front of the shop. According to sources, the CCTV timer is 1 hour and 40 minutes fast. A part of the rear right wheel of a white SUV, purportedly that of a Sathankulam police vehicle is seen in the top left corner of the screen.
A policeman, with a towel wrapped around his face like a mask, comes walking from the other end of the road to the side of the shops and stands in front of the shops, chatting with the men outside and goes back towards the jeep. A while after that, two policemen arrive in front of Bennix’s shop and speak to Jayaraj, who was standing casually in front of the shop. The time counter on the CCTV camera is now 21:43:01.
The policemen talk to Jayaraj for two minutes – the scene is calm, their body language shows no tension or protest. The policemen then walk back towards their vehicle on the other side of the road. Jayaraj returns to his position of leaning onto the wall of his shop, looking towards the road.
Watch the CCTV footage from June 19
About a minute after that, Jayaraj, who was standing outside Bennix’s shop, walks across the road to white SUV. According to witnesses, this is when the policemen called him over.
The shopkeeper of the one with the CCTV is also seen putting his things away inside the store, in an attempt to shut the shop.
A minute and a half later, another man, with a light coloured shirt and a blue lungi (Auto driver Pandi, who reportedly informed Bennix and his friends inside the shop that his father was picked up by the police) goes inside Bennix’s shop and seconds later, Bennix (in a yellow shirt and pair of black pants) comes out of the shop and crosses the road. His friend Rajaram is right behind him. The two of them can be seen standing next to the police vehicle.
Almost a minute later, Bennix and Rajaram return to the shop, while the white the police vehicle drives away with Jayaraj to the police station.
Then Bennix and others are talking on the phone – informing family members about the development. And within minutes, Bennix gets on the bike behind his friend and drives away to the police station.
Though the visuals show the time as after 21.00 hrs, the owner of the shop from where the CCTV footage has been recovered, Prabhu, told TNM that the time in the computer system connected to the CCTV is delayed by an hour and forty minutes. Hence it is understood that the sequence of events begins slightly after 8 pm.
These visuals directly contradict what the FIR registered by the police against Jayaraj and Bennix claimed. According to the FIR, the police constable went on their regular patrolling in the area of Bennix’s shop around 21.15 hrs on June 19. “APJ mobiles shop was open beyond the curfew time, violating the lockdown rules. In front of the shop, Jayaraj, Bennix and a few others were standing. We told them not to crowd and go back to their homes. Others listened to us and went home but Jayaraj and his son Bennix sat on the ground and refused to go home, used obscene language at us and rolled on the ground. They got internal injuries because of that,” read the FIR registered by the police on June 19.
The father-son duo were tortured by the police in Sathankulam police station according to several eye-witnesses, on the night of June 19. Bennix and Jayaraj suffered severe injuries on their bodies and died while in judicial custody on June 22 night and June 23 morning respectively.