The Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) that is investigating the Sathankulam custodial deaths case has picked up five more police officers for inquiry. The new detention comes days after the CB-CID arrested and remanded five officers who were on duty at the Sathankulam police station on June 19.
Confirming that the CB-CID is questioning five more officers, a senior police officer told TNM that it is not clear if the CB-CID is arresting them. Those who have been now taken up for questioning are Pauldurai, Chelladurai, Saamadurai, Veyilamuthu and Thomas, according to reports.
A few days ago, the CB-CID had arrested five policemen who worked at the Sathankulam station, including inspector Sridhar and sub-inspectors Balakrishnan and Raghuganesh in connection to the crime. The CB-CID had also registered an FIR against these policemen under Section 302 [Murder] of the Indian Penal Code.
On June 19, P Jayaraj and his son J Bennix, a mobile phone shop owner in Sathankulam, a town in Thoothukudi district, were arrested by the police. They were assaulted in the police station after they were arrested allegedly by the policemen and a few volunteers from the Friends of Police (FoP) organisation. Following the arrest, the duo was remanded to judicial custody in the Kovilpatti sub-jail, where Bennix died on June 22 and Jayaraj died on June 23.
The case sparked widespread outrage on police brutality in the state and the Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the case. While the court raised questions on the arrest and remand processes followed by the police in the case, the government of Tamil Nadu transferred the case to the CBI to probe. The court, meanwhile, ordered an investigation by the CB-CID based on the judicial magistrate’s report on the custodial deaths and the postmortem reports.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, on Tuesday, announced that the Union government has issued a notification transferring the case to CBI based on the request of the state government.