The father-son duo, P Jayaraj who was 59 years-old and his son Fenix who was 31 years-old, were arrested for breaching the lockdown norms during their shop’s business hours, died at a hospital in Kovilpatti, with relatives alleging that Tamil Nadu Police officers had severely thrashed them at the police station. Despite #JusticeForJayarajAndFenix circulating on social media, in Tuticorin the custodial deaths have caused national indignation.
|| Varsha Sahoo
A number of people took to the streets in Sathakulam, a place in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district, to pay their respects for Jayaraj and Fenix, who were brutally tortured and killed while in police custody. Many in the district have demanded justice for the father-son duo since June 19. Several people gathered to say a final goodbye to them as their coffins were removed from their home.
Jayaraj was pulled up on June 19, at 8:15 pm by officers of the Sathankulam police who were on patrol. They upbraided him for breaching the curfew by 15minutes. Jayaraj was taken in by the police on Saturday and soon after that his son, Fenix was also arrested when he went to the police station to enquire about his father. The two of them had been convicted under the Indian Penal Code Section 188(disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (use of force to deter public servant from duty), 269(negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), and 506(2) (punishment for criminal intimidation).
While in custody, they were brutally tortured by the cops. And when they were released and sent to the hospital, the doctor there declared them fit irrespective of the eyewitnesses reporting that they were beaten up brutally and were still bleeding. For the remand of Jayaraj and Fenix the Sathankulam police addressed the magistrate B Saravanan. The magistrate reportedly issued the remand order without seeing the father-son visually, which is needed to determine if the detainees are wounded.
Advocate S Manimaran, an eyewitness to the brutally said, “We were standing out and we were seeing the whole incident from outside through a glass gate. Fenix and his father were beaten up brutally by the police and in the morning there was blood all around that place.” Adding to this he also said that Fenix was hit so hardly that his flesh was ripped off.
The statement of their car driver and other eyewitness states that the father-son duo was beaten to death. Later both of them were produced before the magistrate and the duo was sent to Kovilpatti government hospital. On Monday evening Fenix breathed his last and the next morning Jayaraj succumbed to respiratory illness.
When the news about the deaths first broke out there was turmoil and protests all over Tamil Nadu. Many political parties, activists, union bodies started protesting as soon as they came across the news of the duos death. All throughout the week there were protests that demanded justice for the duo. Even on social media videos got viral, people started posting hastags for the duo, even many celebrities also posted and twitted for justice.
While, the deceased’s family insisted that a murder case should be filed against two sub-inspectors as it was moved, saying they were responsible for the death of their father and son. They claimed they had now lost their male family members that too at a time, for which the cops are to be blamed. The elatives said they would not accept the bodies until their demand were met, even as the post mortem took place at the Tirunelvi Government Hospital. Different political parties, including the DMK, also called for action against those responsible for the death of the duo.
The Madras High court has now ordered a report on this case. The High Court’s Madurai bench instructed the police to file a report on the death of the pair on July 26. Fenix was bleeding when he was taken to prison, the prison authorities said. Tuticorin Collector Sandeep Nanduri said that the duo had been previously arrested and lodged in the Kovilpatti sub-jail. “Claims have been made that they were killed in police assault, a judicial investigation was requested,” he said.