Protests in India over deaths of father, son in police custody

Protests in India over deaths of father, son in police custody

Protests mounted Saturday in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and across social media, over the death of a father-and-son duo in police custody.

P Jeyaraj and his son Emmanuel Bennicks were arrested on June 19 in the town of Sathankulam on charges of violating coronavirus lockdown rules by keeping their mobile phone shop open beyond stipulated hours.

While Bennicks died at a local hospital on Monday, his father died a day later.

Their family has alleged that the two died after they were brutally tortured in police custody and have demanded the policemen involved should be charged with murder.

Tuticorin district collector Sandeep Nanduri said two policemen had been suspended in connection with the incident, which was being investigated.

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The Madras High Court has decided to monitor the case. It ordered that the autopsy be recorded and all relevant video footage and documents be kept safe for the court’s use.

The Tamil Nadu government has announced a compensation of 2.5 million rupees (about 33,000 dollars) to the family.

Traders’ associations and civil right activists led protests in Tuticorin, the district headquarters, for the third day running Saturday. Protests were also held in Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, and other places.

#justiceforjayarajandbennix has been trending on Twitter for days, with many comparing the incident to the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

The initial police report accuses the two men of verbally abusing the officers and threatening to kill them, NDTV reported.

The report also says the two men received injuries while rolling on the ground in their efforts to evade arrest.

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