Sathankulam custodial deaths: One of the arrested cops died due to COVID-19

In a shocking development in the Sathankulam custodial deaths case, one of the arrested police officers had died of COVID-19 viral infection on Monday. The development has come amid the probe of the custodial deaths of father and son that has been carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 

According to the reports, the deceased police officer was Pauldurai (56), who was one among the arrested police officers in connection to the case. Pauldurai was the Special Sub Inspector attached to the Sathankulam police station. He had been remanded under the judicial custody and lodged at the Madurai Central prison. Amid the probe, he was tested positive for COVID-19 pandemic on July 24 following which he was taken to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. 

He was getting treated at the hospital and he was suffering from diabetes and heart diseases. The reports say his health was deteriorating since Saturday and he was declared dead in the wee hours of Monday due to COVID-19. Earlier, some of the CBI officers in the probing team and the arrested police officers had also been confirmed to have contracted to the viral infection. 

The custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks had sparked massive outrage across the nation and triggered tensions among various stakeholders who demanded strict action against the responsible police officers for brutally torturing and killing the father and son. The incident has drawn massive attention beyond the borders after it had spotlighted the police brutality in India and the Madras High Court Madurai Bench had taken the matter under the suo motu cognizance and directed the CB-CID to probe the case. 

Initially, the CB-CID had arrested the suspended police officers of Sathankulam including Inspector Sridhar, Sub-Inspectors Raghuganesh and Balakrishnan, and constables Murugan and Muthuraj. These five police officers were remanded under the judicial custody and the charges for murder and wrongful confinement have been slapped against them. 

Following their arrests, the CB-CID went on to arrest five other policemen including Pauldurai, Thomas, Veyilamuthu, Saamidurai, and Chelladurai on July 8 and they were also sent under the judicial custody and lodged in Madurai Central prison on July 14 and these five police officers have also been booked under the grounds of murder, wrongful confinement, and tampering the evidence. While CB-CID was probing the case, the Tamil Nadu government has said the probe would be transferred to the CBI and requested the Central government following which the CBI team pitched in and taken over the probe.

On July 24, Pauldurai was tested positive for COVID-19 and he had breathed his last on Monday. It must be recalled that Jayaraj and Bennicks were taken by the Sathankulam police on June 19 for keeping their mobile shop beyond the timings prescribed by the government amid the COVID-19 lockdown. The father and son were reportedly tortured at the police station by the police officers and they were lodged at the Kovilpatti prison. 

However, on June 22, Bennicks was taken to the hospital after he complained of the chest pain and he died at the Kovilpatti government hospital and his father Jayaraj had also died at the same hospital in the wee hours of June 23 and the back to back deaths under the police custody had sparked massive outrage that they were tortured and killed by the police officers. The recent evidence had also revealed that he had tortured brutally. The deceased cop, Pauldurai, was one among the four officers who was holding the father and son while the other officers beaten and tortured them.