Sathankulam custodial deaths: New revelation adds more pressure to the arrested police officers!

The Central Bureau of Investigation has, on Tuesday, said the Madras High Court Madurai Bench that the Sathankulam police had filed false cases against Jayaraj and Bennicks to take them under their custody. The revelation has come nearly three months after the father and son duo had died of the custodial torture. 

The custodial deaths that spotlighted the police brutality had triggered a massive outrage across the nation. The case was initially probed by the CB-CID and later, the probe was taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and over ten police officers attached to the Sathankulam including Sridhar and sub-inspectors were suspended and arrested in connection to the custodial deaths. They have been lodged in the Madurai prison and charges of murder and wrongful confinement have slapped against them. 

Amid the probe, detained police officer Sridhar had moved his bail petition to the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. In his petition, Sridhar said that he was not present at the station on the day of custodial torture of the father and son. By assuring that he won't get absconded and follow the proceedings of the court, Sridhar cited that he needs bail due to his health condition. 

His bail petition has come for hearing on Tuesday before the bench chaired by Justice Bharathidasan and the counsel who represented Sridhar claimed that the latter was not present on the day of the incident as he was involving in the COVID-19 duty. The counsel argued that there was no relation between Sridhar and the incident and further sought the directive from the court to award bail for the jailed officer due to his health issues. 

However, in response, the counsel for CBI had revealed that the Sathankulam police had slapped false cases against Jayaraj and Bennicks and taken them into custody. The CBI said that it had investigated over 45 people and it was found that the father and son were booked under false grounds and it couldn't have happened without the knowledge of Sridhar. The CBI had strongly pressed the court to deny him the bail as he would destroy and tamper the evidence.

After observing the statement of the CBI, the High Court bench has adjourned the case for further hearing to September 11. The custodial deaths of the father and son had drawn huge attention across and beyond the national borders after it had spotlighted the police brutality in India. The Sathankulam police had on June 19 detained the father and son under the grounds that they had kept their shop open after the lockdown timings. 

The police had booked the father and son for violating the lockdown, protesting against and threatening the police officers. They were taken into custody and lodged in Kovilpatti prison and on the night of June 22, Bennicks had died at the local government hospital where he was taken after he complained of chest pain. A few hours later his father Jayaraj had also died at the same hospital in the wee hours of June 23. The back to back deaths under the police custody had sparked resentments against the police department with thousands demanding strict action against the responsible police officers. 

The Madras High Court Madurai Bench had taken the case under suo-motu cognizance and it directed the CBCID probe. Initially, CBCID had arrested the police officers and the Tamil Nadu government has requested the Center for the CBI probe, following which the CBI had pitched in and currently probing the custodial deaths.