The Commission sent the notice based on a complaint that demanded the disbanding of the Friends of Police group after its alleged role in the Sathankulam custodial deaths.

State human rights body sends notice to TN govt on legality of using Friends of Police
news Sathankulam custodial deaths Tuesday, July 07, 2020 - 16:39

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP) about engaging the services of Friends of Police (FoP) in the state.

The notice, issued on Tuesday, raised questions around the legal sanction accorded to the Tamil Nadu police to use FoP for its official operations. The Commission sent the notice based on a complaint that demanded the disbanding of FoP after its alleged role in Sathankulam custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix last month.

The Commission also sought answers from the DGP and the Home Secretary on whether using FoP to discharge the official duties of the state police was not a violation of human rights. The notice also asked the two senior officers if the demand to disband FoP due to its alleged involvement in the Sathankulam custodial death case is justified.

The DGP and the Home Secretary have been ordered to submit a detailed report on these questions raised by the SHRC within four weeks, failing which the Commission will take appropriate action.

The role of FoP in Tamil Nadu’s policing has come under the scanner since it was alleged that a few FoP volunteers had also assaulted Jayaraj and Bennix at the Sathankulam police station on June 19. The Chennai-based organisation recently denied its involvement in the attack stating that it does not have volunteers attached to the Sathankulam police station and hence could not have been involved in Jayaraj and Bennix’s assault at the station. The government of Tamil Nadu, however, instructed all district police to disengage the services of FoP in their districts for at least two months. The organisation will be allowed to take part only in activities like regulating traffic and volunteer work.

The CB-CID, which is conducting a court-monitored probe into the deaths of the father-son duo in Thoothukudi district, had also questioned a few FoP volunteers as a part of its investigation. Five policemen have been booked for murder so far and they have all been arrested and remanded to judicial custody.

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