Why We Urgently Need Police Reforms: CBI Finds Jayaraj & Bennicks Were Tortured For Over Six Hours


Why We Urgently Need Police Reforms: CBI Finds Jayaraj & Bennicks Were Tortured For Over Six Hours

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Police brutality is an issue that plagues India as much as it does the United States or Hong Kong. The CBI has finally concluded that the father-son duo Jayaraj and Bennicks, whose custodial deaths had caused a social media storm, were tortured for over six hours by policemen.

Jayaraj and his son Bennicks were arrested on June 19 for keeping their mobile phone shop open 15 minutes beyond curfew. Jayaraj was taken away by the police, and his son, who later reached the police station, was also arrested. The CBI chargesheet says the two were subjected to “several rounds of brutal torture with intervals in between 7.45 pm and 3 am.”

Forensic evidence reveals that they were beaten so brutally that blood was splattered on the walls of the police station. The policemen used sticks to torture the two men. According to the post mortem report, the blunt injuries caused the death of Bennicks. As if the sheer horror of the torture wasn’t enough, to add insult to injury, policemen made Bennicks clean the bloodstains in the police station using his vest.

The CBI has stated that a false FIR was registered against Bennicks and Jayaraj to cover up the crime. According to NDTV, investigations have revealed that the two didn’t violate lockdown guidelines. The bloodstained clothes of the father and son were thrown in a dustbin at a government hospital in an attempt to destroy evidence.

The CBI submitted a report titled “Results of Laboratory Analysis” to the Madras High Court, according to India Today. It said that the DNA samples collected from the police station matched those of the father and son. “That deceased Bennicks and Jayaraj were subjected to brutal torture by the accused police officials on the evening of 19.06.2020 and intervening night of 19-20.06.2020 in the Police Station Sathankulam, stands established,” the CBI said, citing experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Delhi.

Ten policemen were arrested in this case, one of whom died due to coronavirus in August. The Madras High Court observed in July that there was evidence to charge the policemen involved, with murder. The state government had transferred the case to the CBI after approval from the Madras High Court on June 29. This was after massive public outrage in relation to this case.

When the police that is meant to protect, turns against the very people it is supposed to serve, it hurts the collective credibility of the force. The guilty officers being charged quickly and brought to justice might be a good first step, along with long-term reforms that address this issue structurally. Citizens should not have to fear their own police, that would be a blot of the spirit of law and justice.