The government’s decision comes amidst reports of the alleged involvement of the group in the Sathankulam custodial deaths case.

Jayaraj and Bennix who died in the custody of Sathankulam police Jayaraj and Bennix
news Custodial death Wednesday, July 08, 2020 - 17:26

After reports of the alleged involvement of the Friends of Police (FoP) group in the custodial deaths of the father-son duo in Sathankulam, the Tamil Nadu government rescinded FoP’s services across the state on Wednesday.

The government had already announced the suspension of FoP’s services in six districts on Sunday. The ban was in force in Trichy, Ariyalur, Pudukottai, Perambalur, Karur and Villupuram.

The Friends of Police initiative was started by Director General of Police (DGP) of CS-CID Prateep V Philip to enrol youngsters to help police officers.

The government’s decision comes in the wake of allegations of FoP’s involvement in the Sathankulam custodial deaths case last month. Fifty-eight-year-old Jayaraj and his son Bennix (31) were allegedly beaten and tortured while in custody at the Sathankulam police station. They died two days later at the Kovilpatti government hospital. Later, there were allegations that the father and son were also tortured by FoP volunteers while in custody.

The government order said, “Based on the report received from Director General of Police, Chennai, the Friends of Police Movement to the whole of state of Tamil Nadu is hereby rescinded.”

The rescinding of FoP’s services means that they will not be allowed to work with police for patrolling, arrests or vehicle checks.

In a case that sparked massive outrage in the state and beyond, Bennix and Jayaraj were arrested by the Sathankulam police on June 19 for allegedly keeping their shop open beyond the lockdown timings. They were allegedly tortured in the police station by the police and then remanded in Kovilpatti sub-jail on June 20. Bennix complained of chest pain on June 22 night and died shortly after, while Jayaraj died the following morning at the Kovilpatti government hospital.

Last week, the FoP team had denied its involvement in the Sathankulam case. In a press release, the team said that the volunteers Jayaraj and Bennix met in front of the police station were volunteers deployed for coronavirus duty and not FoP members.

The team also said that the members involved in the case were not registered with FoP nor had they attended training sessions or possessed identity cards of the organisation.

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