By Arré Bench Jun. 29, 2020
The horrific deaths of P Jayaraj and J Bennicks because of alleged police torture in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin is not the only incident being reported from the state. The family of a 30-year-old auto rickshaw driver, N Kumaresan, has alleged that he died after he was brutally assaulted by cops in Tenkasi district.
Policemen beating up unarmed civilians is not an uncommon sight in India. But every few years, there comes a case that shakes you to the core. Last week, the horrific deaths of the father-son duo P Jayaraj and J Bennicks because of alleged police torture in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin left the nation seething. Unfortunately, this is not the only incident being reported from the state.
Yet another case of alleged custodial torture & death reported in #Tenkasi district. An auto rickshaw driver died last night after at Tirunelveli GH. Family alleges that he was beaten up in police custody over a property dispute.
After protests one SI & constable booked pic.twitter.com/SlxW8J55uk
— Shabbir Ahmed (@Ahmedshabbir20) June 28, 2020
Now the family of a 30-year-old auto rickshaw driver from Tenkasi district has alleged that he died on Saturday after facing custodial torture. N Kumaresan was battling for life at the Tirunelveli Government Medical College and Hospital after he was brutally assaulted by cops at the Veerakeralamputhur police station.
Yet another #CustodialDeath in TN. Even as the custodial death of a father-son duo has sparked debate, in a similar incident an auto-rickshaw driver in Tenkasi district died, days after being allegedly tortured by police in custody.
Writes @pkr_madras https://t.co/BKMMQadseM
— The Federal (@TheFederal_in) June 28, 2020
Like Jayaraj and Bennicks, who were picked up for not following lockdown restrictions, the complaint against Kumaresan was far from grave. After a complaint was filed against him over a property dispute, the auto driver was called to the police station for an inquiry on May 8. Sub-inspector Chandrashekar slapped Kumaresan and verbally abused him, his father A Navaneethakrishnan alleges.
Even as outrage over the deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix in Thoothukudi continues, a second incident of alleged police custodial violence has emerged in Tamil Nadu’s Tenkasi district. https://t.co/2KH6vi8e4X
— Sanyukta (@dramadhikari) June 29, 2020
The next day while Kumaresan was standing at the auto rickshaw stand an argument broke out between him and the cop. “My son said both the police and him are in khaki. That was his only mistake,” Navaneethakrishnan told The Times of India.
Kumaresan was reportedly summoned once again to the police station on May 10 where he was brutally assaulted by the sub-inspector and a constable. According to his father, he was kicked on the genitals and the chest with their boots on, punched on his back, and beaten up with a lathi.
We have one more tragic death as a result of #PoliceBrutality . Enough is enough! This trend of custodial deaths and the police treating people like dirt has to stop. The government must intervene #JusticeForJeyarajAndBennicks #JusticeForKumaresanhttps://t.co/zxeas4OJ1R
— Arun Venugopal (@scarletrun) June 28, 2020
On June 10, Kumaresan complained of uneasiness and vomited blood. He was admitted to a private hospital following which he was moved to a government facility where he died.
Tension gripped Tenkasi as his body was handed over to relatives on Sunday. Protests erupted in the town with demand for a judicial probe into the death.
A case of suspicious death has been registered against the sub-inspector and constable. The investigation will be reportedly carried out by a police officer from another district.
But what India needs is not just a probe or a suspension of police officers. It needs a change in system where police officials are held more accountable, and are sensitised.
The Anti torture bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2010. Yet, it has not become law. Seems that those in power don’t want to stop this cruel practice https://t.co/Ofl34uRF6l
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 29, 2020
The problem is all too common. Five custodial deaths are reported in India every day, according to the “India Annual Report on Torture”.
In 2019, custodial torture claimed the lives of 1,731 people in India; the year before that the number was at 1,966. The deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks and Kumaresan are not isolated incidents then. They are just the tip of the iceberg.