The Tamil Nadu police’s crime branch-criminal investigation department has arrested five suspended policemen working in Sathankulam police station in Tuticorin district for the murder of P. Jeyaraj and his son J. Bennicks, officials said.
The CBCID also altered the first information report registered on the death of Jeyaraj and Bennicks as a murder case from the earlier charge of suspicious death.
Police have registered the case as two separate murders while security has been provided for Revathy, the policewomen who had deposed before a magistrate that the father and son were beaten through the June 19 night by the police at Sathankulam police station.
The court also ordered that Revathy be given leave with pay.
The five arrested policemen are inspector Sridhar, sub-inspectors Balakrishnan and Raghu Ganesh, head constable Murugan and constable Muthuraj.
The police nabbed Sridhar at Gangaikondan while he was trying to escape in his car.
Ganesh was sent to custody till July 16 late Wednesday.
Madras High Court’s Madurai bench which took up the case suo motu, appreciated the CBCID for nabbing the policemen. The action of CBCID has created the impression that justice will be delivered, it said, as it adjourned the case.
According to CBCID inspector general Shankar, 12 teams have been formed to carry out the probe into the custodial death of father and son Jeyaraj and Bennicks.
Abraham Mathai, founder of Harmony Foundation and former vice chairman of Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, welcomed the arrest of the policemen and altering the FIR to a murder case.
He also said the outstanding intervention by the court has now set a precedence that the courts of justice can halt the tide of impunity that has been trying to take root lately.
He said the order to the court to revenue officials to take over the Sathankulam police station only proves that the high court was more than convinced that the police station was a “den of savages”.
Jeyaraj and Bennicks had been booked for not closing their mobile phone shop in time June 19 by the Sathankulam police. They were sent to judicial custody and lodged in Kovilpatti jail June 21. Jeyaraj died June 22 night and Bennicks June 23 morning in judicial custody, allegedly due to the police torture.
Media reports, citing witness accounts, have said the father and son duo were sodomized and their clothes were drenched in blood.
\According to Kovilpatti judicial magistrate M S Bharathidasan’s report to the high court, the policewoman, 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.
The high court has also initiated criminal contempt cases against three police officials — additional superintendent of police Kumar, deputy SP Prathapan and constable Maharajan — for their behavior at the Sathankulam police station in front of magistrate Bharathidasan.