The Centre has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the probe into the alleged custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix, traders from Thoothukudi district who died on June 23. The Centre's decision follows the state government's written request for a CBI investigation into the deaths.
The case involving the death of the two traders who were arrested by the Sathankulam police on June 19, saw little progress while being handled by the Thoothukudi police. Even before the policemen involved were charged for murder, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had announced that the CBI will be asked to take over the case. Meanwhile, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, which was hearing the case, decided there was enough evidence, based on the post-mortem of the two men to investigate police officials from the station for their deaths. Based on the medical reports of severe injuries found on the two men, the court directed the CB CID to take over the probe. The court however stated that if the CB CID was found to be efficient in its investigation, the case need not be handed over to the CBI. Despite this, the state government has decided to proceed with the CBI.
Within a day of taking over the probe, the CB CID had conducted inquiries with eyewitnesses near Jayaraj and Bennix's shops, they had questioned all police officials who were present in the station on the night of the arrest and even apprehended 5 policemen in connection to the crime. Sub inspectors Raghuganesh and Balakrishnan, inspector Sridhar, head constable Murugan and constable Muthuraj are the police officials who have been arrested by the CB CID in connection to the deaths.
A woman head constable from the station who is also a primary eye witness has given her statement to the CB CID. She had told the Kovilpatti magistrate during his inquiry at the police station, that she had seen Jayaraj and Bennix being assaulted by the police and that lathis and tables were blood stained after the attack on them.
During the inquiry, the magistrate had stated that police in the Sathankulam station, including the Deputy Superintendent of police and additional Superintendent of police attempted to intimidate him. A constable allegedly abused the magistrate and there was a deliberate attempt to hide or not submit evidence. Following this all policemen, DSP and ADSP from the Sathankulam station were transferred to allow for a fair probe.
The High Court further ordered that protection be given the woman head constable who revealed the truth to the magistrate.