TN Custodial Deaths: CCTV Footage Contradicts Police Version of Resistance from Father and Son

Poornima Murali

Contrary to claims made in the first information report (FIR) in the custodial deaths of a man and his son in Thoothukudi, CCTV footage from a nearby shop revealed their no resistance from the duo towards policemen and the scene outside the family’s mobile shop on the fateful night was not chaotic at all.

Police had stated in the FIR that there was hectic activity outside the mobile shop owned by P Jayaraj (62) and his son J Bennix (32) on June 19 before they were arrested for keeping their store open beyond permitted hours during the lockdown.

The duo died three days later within a gap of few hours after suffering grievous assault allegedly in the hands of some officers of Sathankulam police station in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.

The FIR against Jayaraj-Bennix claimed that the duo resisted arrest and even rolled on the floor while crowds gathered and witnessed this, leading to internal injuries.

However, the footage shows clearly that Jayaraj was standing outside his shop around 7:40pm on Friday before he was taken to the police station in a jeep. His son, Bennix, 32, is alerted by some staff at the shop after Jayaraj walks on his own towards a police vehicle stationed outside the shop.

Soon after Jayaraj is taken away by police, Bennix can be seen frantically making calls. Accompanied by some acquaintance, he gets on a two-wheeler and rides to the police station. The footage clearly shows that the duo had no confrontation with police.

Further information is expected to come out in the case this week as the post-mortem report has been submitted to the Madurai Bench of the court in a sealed cover.

The duo’s death in Kovilpatti sub-jail has triggered a national outrage over the brutal treatment by police and political blame-game.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court asked Thoothukudi district collector Sandeep Nanduri to instruct revenue officials to take control of the police station for collecting the relevant documents.

The court took suo moto cognizance of the case. The court also asked the forensic team to collect all the materials to protect evidence after the principal district and sessions judge, Thoothukudi, who was monitoring the case, submitted that the Sathankulam police were not cooperating with the probe being conducted by the Kovilpatti judicial magistrate.

When the government counsel asked for permission to transfer the probe to the CBI, the court said it was a policy decision and its permission was not needed.

On Sunday, Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced transfer of the investigation to the CBI and said the high court's permission would be sought for it.