As CBI to probe Sathankulam custodial deaths, what's the state of some of the important cases?

Amid the fierce outrages and protests against the custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks in Thoothukudi district, the Tamil Nadu state government has, on Monday, transferred the probe of the custodial deaths of the father and son duo to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The case has gone under the ambit of the Central agency exactly a day after the Chief Minister said that the case would be transferred to the CBI. The state government has issued the order of transferring the case on Monday in which it has stated that the government has transferred the case after the Director-General of Police requested the government to transfer the case to the CBI to carry out a free and fair investigation. 

The order was issued by the Additional Chief Secretary to the government and comes at a high time when the protestors are demanding the government to book and arrest the responsible police officers who are behind the custodial deaths of the father and son, who were died under police custody after facing torture inside the prison. While the state government has decided to stay off from the responsibility by putting the case on the Central agency without admitting it as the custodial deaths, let's take a look at the state of some of the important cases of Tamil Nadu that still remain under the probe of CBI.

1) Thoothukudi massacre:

One of the strong reasons why Thoothukudi rose up fiercely against the custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks was what they have witnessed two years back. On May 22, 2018, the Tamil Nadu police had carried out shooting against people who were protesting against the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi. The police responded to the protests through bullets and guns by claiming that the protests have become communal riots. The police have killed 13 people and in August 2018,  the case was transferred to the CBI. The Central agency has disclosed its report to the Madras High Court Madurai bench. However, the Central agency is yet to file the charge sheet.

A policeman can be seen shooting people who protested against Sterline plant in Thoothukudi - May 22, 2018


2) Pollachi sexual assault case:

One of the biggest offenses against women recorded in the state, the Pollachi sexual assault case was transferred to the CBI in March 2019 and it was transferred by the Tamil Nadu government. Initially, the horrific case was probed by the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch department and five people connected to the case have been detained. In May 2019, CBI has filed a charge sheet against the accused in Coimbatore court. The probe has been going on and hundreds of women, who were harassed by these men, are still waiting for justice.

The accused of the Pollachi sexual assault case - File photo


3) Fathima Latheef Suicide case:

In November 2019, the prestigious IIT Madras had reported shocking news. Fathima Latheef, a first-year Master's degree student had committed suicide at her hostel on the premises of the institution on November 9. She has named three professors for her death, which divulged that she could have been harassed. She was a native of Kollam, Kerala and her father demanded CBI probe into her death. He moved his plea to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the Union Home Minister asking for CBI inquiry. The case was transferred to CBI in December 2019. However, the reports say there has been no development in the case and no charge sheet has been filed.

File photo of Fathima Latheef, who committed suicide in the premises of IIT Madras


4) Vishnupriya suicide case:

In a yet another dreadful incident, Vishnupriya, who was then Deputy Superintendent of Police, Tiruchengode, Namakkal district, had committed suicide at her home in 2015. She was probing the death case of Gokulraj, an engineering student who became the victim of caste-killing. Amid the probe, Vishnupriya was found dead. It was alleged that she has died due to the pressure levied upon her from higher authorities in the probe. CBI was roped to probe into her death. However, the case was dismissed by the court under the grounds of no appropriate evidence for her death.

            A collage of Vishnupriya and her suicide note 


Vishnupriya's father alleged that the evidence in her laptop and mobile phone tampered and destroyed. He moved his complaint to the Namakkal Superintendent of Police. However, the investigation is still going on.

5) Ramajayam murder case: 

In March 2012, DMK leader and Former Tamil Nadu Minister KN Nehru's brother Ramajayam was murdered in the morning hours in Trichy district. He was brutally murdered by the unidentified assailants and the case was initially probed by the state crime branch department. In 2017, with accord to the plea filed by Ramajayam's wife, the Madras High Court Madurai Bench had ordered to transfer the case to CBI. However, according to the reports, the probe hasn't attained any development and still has been under investigation by the Central agency.

File photo of Ramajayam, who was killed in Trichy in March 2012


In line with these top cases, the Tamil Nadu government has transferred the Sathankulam custodial deaths to the CBI on Monday-June 19 to carry out what the government has called as the fair and independent probe into the deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks. While some of the major and shocking cases still been lying before CBI and waiting for justice, it has erupted skepticism on whether the Sathankulam custodial deaths would be added as another case in the list. The voices demand that the Central agency must carry out the fair probe and deliver justice for all these important cases sooner rather than later.