The audacity of police in Sathankulam is not limited to disrespecting citizens, but it even extends to the judiciary it seems. Tired of their indifference and lack of co-operation, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has asked for a criminal contempt petition to be filed against two top police officers of the district and a constable in the Sathankulam station.
The bench of judges, Justice PN Prakash and B Pughazhendi has even said that it will be difficult to conduct a fair and free investigation in Jayaraj and Bennixâ€™s death if the state does not intervene to transfer the Additional Superintendent of Police Thoothukudi D Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police Thoothukudi C Prathapan and all police officers in the Sathankulam station.
The High Court said that in the presence of the two senior officers, police constable of Sathankulam police station Maharajan made a disparaging remark against the Kovilpatti Magistrate, who had gone to the station to conduct a probe.
â€śA reading of it clearly shows that the district police administration are doing everything within their command to prevent the learned Magistrate from proceeding with the enquiry. The report shows that D Kumar, Additional Superintendent of Police Thoothukudi and C Prathapan, Deputy Superintendent of Police Thoothukudi made themselves available in the Sathankulam police station and in their very presence, the other policemen were taking videos of the Magisterial proceedings. The policemen were not giving the records called for by the learned Magistrate and it is seen that one of them, Maharajan, police constable, Sathankulam police station had made a very disparaging remark in Tamil to the learned Magistrate,â€ť the court noted.
The Court has directed the registrar (judicial) to first register a suo motu criminal contempt case in the Sathankulam incident. The court also directed the three police personnel to be present before the bench in person at 10.30 am on June 30.
26 cops transferred
Following the courtâ€™s order, Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police P Arun Balagopalan ordered the transfer of 26 police officers of the Sathankulam police station on Monday. The 26 police personnel includes one inspector, two sub inspectors and 23 personnel of other ranks.
Talking to TNM, Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police P Arun Balagopalan said, â€śThe department has newly appointed 27 police personnel to the Sathankulam police station and 26 personnel have been transferred from the station. One inspector, two sub inspectors and 23 personnel of other ranks have been changed from the station.â€ť
However, the government is yet to decide on the transfer of the ADSP and DSP as asked by the court.
Five police officers directly involved in the case were already suspended.
On June 19, Jayaraj was picked up by the Sathankulam police and his son Bennix went to the station to know about the whereabouts of his father. When Bennix went to the station and asked the police officials about Jayaraj he was allegedly attacked by the police.
After 4 days, the family members were informed that Jayaraj and Bennix, died at Kovilpatti Government Hospital. Bennix complained of chest pain and died on June 22, while his father also breathed his last the next day.
Following this, the family members and eye-witnessed alleged that the father and son were tortured to death in police custody. Many politicians including Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi raised their voices in support of the victims.