Sathankulam custodial deaths: Murder charges slapped, cop Raghuganesh arrested

The cop had been suspended earlier in the week.
Raghuganesh arrested for jayaraj bennix murder
Raghuganesh arrested for jayaraj bennix murder
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Over a week after the custodial assault and deaths of father and son duo Jayaraj and Bennix in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district, Sub-Inspector Raghuganesh was arrested late on Wednesday by the CBCID. He, along with Sub Inspector Balakrishnan and inspector Sridhar, have been accused of severely assaulting the two traders who died in police custody.

Speaking to TNM, Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police Jayakumar confirmed that Raghuganesh has been arrested and that efforts are underway to track down other officers involved in the case.

“The other officials are unavailable. The police department is fully assisting the CBCID,” said Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police Jayakumar.

According to reports, the CBCID has altered the original FIR against the accused police officers to reflect murder charges (Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code).

After massive public condemnation, the district police suspended Balakrishnan and P Raghuganesh on June 24. Inspector Sridhar who was put on a waitlist was also subsequently suspended.

The government of Tamil Nadu, on Monday, transferred the case to CBI.

On Tuesday, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court heard the case and ordered the CBCID to start investigation in the case, taking into account the possible procedural delays in the CBI taking over the case. The order for a CBCID probe was passed after considering the postmortem reports of Jayaraj and Bennix, a witness statement of a head constable from the Sathankulam police station and the report of the Kovilpatti judicial magistrate, who had visited the station for an inquiry on June 28.

The preliminary report of the autopsy had stated that the duo had suffered grievous injuries on their bodies before they died. The head constable in the Sathankulam police station had provided a statement to the judicial magistrate on June 28 that the duo were assaulted and tortured through the night on June 19 by the police in the station. The judicial magistrate, in his report, had mentioned that the police in the station behaved in an intimidating manner and were non-cooperative to the magisterial probe. The High Court took note and stated that there were prima facie grounds to register an FIR under Section 302 for murder, against the police officials.

The court had also expressed concern over the possibility of tampering of evidence in this case, given the hostile situation, and ordered a CBCID probe immediately.

On Wednesday, the CB-CID conducted inquiries with multiple persons involved in the case including the family of Jayaraj and Bennix, the doctor who examined them at the Sathankulam government hospital and the woman police official who had been witness to their assault at the Sathankulam police station.

The case is due for hearing before the Madras High Court on Thursday.

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