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December 29th, 2020

End police brutality in India

topic: Political violence
type: Petition
by: Yair Oded

On 19 June, 2020, P Jeyaraj, 58, and his son Benicks, 38, were arrested by the local police in the Thoothukudi district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for opening their mobile device store past 8 PM and thus violating the coronavirus curfew. 

According to eyewitnesses, Jeyaraj and his son were tortured and raped for hours at the Sathankulam police station where they were held. The father and son were transferred from police custody to Kovilpatti General hospital in dire condition, and both men died within hours from each other at the hospital.

According to initial medical reports, the bodies of Jeyaraj and Benicks showed severe injuries. “Their legs and hands were swollen, and Bennix was bleeding from the buttocks. (Jayaraj) had bad injuries in his knees,” S Rajaram, a lawyer and friend of Benicks, told The Straits Times. “The police even asked for new lungis (sarongs) because the ones they wore were bloody.”

Testimonies of eyewitnesses further corroborate the claim that the two men had died as a result of being tortured at the police station. 

“Jeyaraj and Benicks were thrashed again after they were taken to the police station, even as some of us were witnessing it from the entrance of the police station,” relatives of the victims stated in an interview for The Hindu newspaper.

"Throughout the night, the duo cried for help and people residing about 500 meters away from the station could hear that,” an eyewitness told the Chennai-based news site The Federal. 

The killings of Jeyanaj and Benicks sparked a wave of protests throughout the state, calling for justice for the victims and an end to the staggering rates of police brutality in Tamil Nadu and India in general. 

“The deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks [Bennix] once again signal towards India’s continuing failure to hold its police accountable,” Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India, said in a statement. “The poor conviction rates in cases of custodial torture and deaths have further created a climate of pervasive impunity, emboldening the police officers. This must end now,” Kumar further stated, adding that as per the 2018 National Crimes Record Bureau data, “Tamil Nadu accounted for the second highest deaths in custody. But not a single police personnel was arrested.”

You may support the swelling call for an end to police brutality in India by signing this Change.org petition addressed to the government of India.

The petition has so far garnered nearly 11,000 signatures. Help them reach their goal of 15,000.   

Image by Utkarsha Singroul 

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