Custodial deaths: Rajini demands action against police officials

Source :IANS
Author :IANS
Last Updated: Wed, Jul 1st, 2020, 15:21:03hrs

Chennai, July 1 (IANS) Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Wednesday expressed shock at the way the Sathankulam police officials behaved with a Magistrate who had gone to the police station to inquire into custodial deaths and said the concerned officials should be punished.

In a tweet, Rajinikanth said he was shocked to hear of the manner in which the police officials spoke and behaved in front of the Magistrate inside the Sathankulam police station even as there was widespread condemnation of the brutal torture and killing of a father and son by the police.

The reason for Rajinikanth's anger lies in the report submitted by Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate M.S. Bharathidasan who was asked to inquire into the case of brutal torture of P. Jeyaraj and his son J. Bennicks by the Sathankulam police on June 19 and their subsequent deaths.

Jeyaraj and 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.

In his report to the Madras High Court, Magistrate Bharathidasan said that when he had gone to the Sathankulam police station, Additional Superintendent of Police D. Kumar and Deputy Superintendent of Police C. Prathapan did not even greet him nor acknowledge his presence.

As per the report, Kumar did not respond properly when asked for documents.

The Sathankulam police personnel mocked and threatened the judicial officials, according to the report.

When asked to submit their batons for evidence, the police officials first tried to behave as if they had not heard anything.

But when he insisted police officials submitted their batons except for constable Maharajan who made a disparaging remark - 'you can't pluck anything' - against Bharathidasan.

Maharajan, when asked to submit his baton, first said his baton was at his native place, then said it was at his police quarters residence and finally said he was not given a baton at all.

The report also said one police official ran away when asked for his baton.

Bharathidasan also reported that the CCTV camera storage system did not have any image of June 19 and earlier.

Despite the system having sufficient memory space, it was configured to erase the images on a daily basis.

A woman police constable Revathy, at the Sathankulam police station, in her deposition before Bharathidasan had said that Jeyaraj and Bennicks were beaten with batons throughout the June 19 night.

According to Bharathidasan's report, Revathy also said the victims' blood stains were on the batons of the station police officials and on tables.

She said the batons and the tables should be secured so that the evidence is not lost, the report stated.

Expressing fear that she may be targeted later, Revathy was initially reluctant to sign a printout of her statement but later on being assured of her safety she signed the document.

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai which took up the case suo moto had said there was prima facie evidence to register a murder case against the Sathankulam police officials.

The court also transferred the probe into the deaths of Jeyaraj and Bennicks to the Crime Branch Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) to gather and protect the evidence till the case is handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The High Court has initiated criminal contempt cases against three police officials - Additional Superintendent of Police Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police Prathapan and constable Maharajan - for their behaviour at the Sathankulam police station in front of Magistrate Bharathidasan.

--IANS

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