Custodial death of father, son over violating lockdown sparks protests in TN

South India
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The mysterious death of a father and son arrested for violating lockdown, one after the other on June 22 and June 23, has sparked protests across Tamil Nadu.

Tension prevailed at Sathankulam in Thoothukudi district with large number of people taking to the streets soon after the news of their death reached locals demoing action against the police personnel responsible for the deaths. Shops in the town downed shutters in protest against the alleged police brutality.

58-year-old Jayarajan and his 31-year-old son Bennix who used to run a woodwork shop and a mobile shop in Sathankulam, were arrested by the police on June 19 for keeping their outlets opened in violation of the lockdown norms.

Two days later, the duo were taken to Kovilpatti sub-jail, over 100 km away, since the other sub-jails in their area were over congested. On June 22, Monday, Bennix complained of chest pain and fainted in the jail premises. He was rushed to the government hospital in Kovilpatti where he was declared dead.

The next morning i.e. on June 23 (Tuesday) morning his father’ss condition too worsened. He passed away at about 4.30 am at Kovilpatti Government Hospital.

Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police (SP) Arun Balagopalan told reporters: “Both father and son had health issues which was the reason for their deaths”

DMK chief MK Stalin and Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi have expressed dismay over the death. Kanimozhi has urged the district collector to investigate the incident and take stern action against those involved in the case.

A First Information Report has been filed in Kovilpatti for further investigation. Kovilpatti Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kalaikathiravan was quoted by News Minute as saying, “The inquest will be done by the Kovilpatti Magistrate. A team of doctors are conducting their post-mortem."

On Tuesday afternoon, two sub Inspectors from Sathankulam station were suspended and the remaining police officers too were transferred. Thoothukudi Collector held talks with the protestors and the family members of the deceased and assured action following which the protests were called off.

Image Credit: Galata

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