Father-son arrested for lockdown violations die in police custody, protests in Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police (SP) Arun Balagopalan claimed that both father and son had other health issues and that was the reason for their deaths.
Jayarajan and Bennix Sathankulam
Jayarajan and Bennix Sathankulam
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The mysterious death of a father and son in Kovilpatti sub-jail, one after the other on June 22 and June 23, has raised serious concerns over police brutality in Tamil Nadu. Shops have downed shutters in Thoothukudi district's Sathankulam and people have gathered to protest in the bus stand area, demanding swift action against police officers.

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 allegedly violating lockdown timings. Two days later, the duo were taken to Kovilpatti sub-jail, over 100 km away, since the other sub-jails in the vicinity were unable to take in more occupants.

On June 22, Bennix complained of chest pain and fainted in the jail premises, following which he was rushed to the government hospital in Kovilpatti where he succumbed. Soon after, on Tuesday morning his father’s condition too worsened and he died at about 4.30 am at Kovilpatti Government Hospital.

Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police (SP) Arun Balagopalan told reporters that both father and son had other health issues and that was the reason for their deaths.

Meanwhile, DMK chief MK Stalin and Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi expressed their condemnation towards the incident.

“I have urged the District Collector to investigate the incident and take stern action on those involved. Further, the family of the deceased should be given proper compensation,” Kanimozhi tweeted while Stalin wrote, “In times of a crisis will an argument take the life of a person?”

A First Information Report has been filed in Kovilpatti for further investigation. Speaking to TNM, Kovilpatti Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kalaikathiravan said, “The inquest will be done by the Kovilpatti Magistrate. A team of doctors are conducting their postmortem."

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.

(This is a developing story)

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