Sathankulam, Thoothukudi saw anger and tension among its residents on Tuesday, after a 63-year-old father and his 31-year-old son were allegedly brutally killed while they were in police custody. Their kin and other traders suspect torture by the police as the cause for death of the duo.
Protests have been going around, asking for punishment against 13 police personnel. Trading bodies have shut down their shops at Sathankulam, Udangudi, Peikulam, as a form of solidarity, and protest against police brutality.
On Monday, P Jeyaraj (63), a timber trader at Sathankulam, was detained by the police for violating lockdown restrictions and opening the shop after curfew. He and his son, Fenix (31), were detained at the police station under sections 188, 269, 294(b), 353 and 506(2) of IPC.
However, local witnesses have stated that his shop had not actually violated any guidelines. They also suspect that this unfortunate incident was a result of systemised police brutality. Fenix was attacked and injured when he protested against the police for beating his father in the station.
They were shifted to Kovilpatti sub-jail as per government instructions for isolation of the suspects before shifting them to Palayamkottai central prison. They were brutally beaten up and assaulted there as well. According to eyewitnesses and bystanders, they were brutally assaulted, being made to strip, hit with lathi on their genitalia, and sexually assaulted as well.
They were shifted to the Kovilpatti government hospital when the duo were bleeding profusely and complained of uneasiness. Fenix soon succumbed to his death by 8 p.m. on Monday while Jeyaraj passed away in the waking hours of Tuesday. The bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Government medical college hospital in Tirunelveli. The cause was stated to be a heart failure and respiratory problems by the police. However, the public did not buy it.
The death of these two traders sparked a tension in the district, with shops being shut down as a part of a protest against police brutality. There had been a massive protest of #BlavkLivesMatter in the USA recently, against the same deep-rooted issue of police brutality.
The Kovilpatti unit of CPM party resorted to protest in front of the Kovilpatti GH demanding severe punishment for the culprits. Meanwhile, Sathankulam traders squatted in front of Sathankulam Kamarajar statue demanding to invoke murder charges against 13 police personnel of the Sathankulam station who attacked the father and son duo. Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi had urged the district collector Sandeep Nanduri to initiate severe action against the police personnel involved in the alleged attack and recommend suitable compensation for the family members of the deceased. Tamil Nadu Traders Association president Vellaiyan had asked to shut down shops across the district, said district president Vinayagamurthi.
Due to the outrage and the protest happening in the city, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has ordered the videography of the post mortem procedure. Both the police sub-inspectors involved have been suspended, but that isn’t enough justice. The court has also initiated a suo-moto inquiry into the case.
The Kollywood circle has also spoken up against this incident, with director Karthik Subbaraj and singer Suchitra, among others, releasing videos and tweeting that proper action should be taken against the police officials at fault. #JusticeForJayarajAndFenix has started trending on Twitter, with this incident, garnering the support of people all across India.
Inputs from Yukta Baid