The death of a father and son in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin following allegations of police torture before sending them behind bars has sparked huge outrage on social media.
The deceased are P Jayaraj and his son Beniks, who were arrested last Friday for keeping their mobile phone shop open beyond permitted hours and died at a hospital four days later. The relatives alleged that they were severely thrashed at the Sathankulam police station by police personnel, reports NDTV.
The relatives of the two men, who were traders, allege that there were injuries to the rectum and other tell-tale signs of torture on the two bodies like tufts of hair pulled from the chest, and demanded murder charges against the policemen involved. The two men had been charged with criminal intimidation and verbally abusing the cops.
Jignesh Mevani, Independent MLA from Gujarat, compared the incident to the killing of African-American man George Floyd in the US.
The incident has triggered a furore in Tamil Nadu, leading to the suspension of four policemen, including two sub-inspectors. An inspector has been benched by the state government. There was a massive protest in Tuticorin, with shops closed in the districts and other parts of Tamil Nadu on Friday.
Chief Minister EK Palaniswami, who controls the police department, condoled the deaths but was silent on the alleged torture. He has announced a total of Rs 20 lakh as compensation and a job for the family.
The case has now been taken up by Madras High Court.
The death of the father and the son has also snowballed into a major political row and has triggered calls for law enforcement reform. Tamil Nadu's opposition party government, accusing it of allowing policemen to take "law into their own hands" and announced it would give Rs 25 lakh to the family of the two men.
Condoling their deaths, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said it is a tragedy when protectors turn into oppressors. "Police brutality is a terrible crime. It's a tragedy when our protectors turn into oppressors. I offer my condolences to the family of the victims and appeal to the government to ensure," he tweeted.
Relatives of two traders finally accepted the bodies on Thursday, expressing hope they would get justice and following assurances given by the officials.