Amid continuing outrage over the custodial deaths of traders Jayaraj and his son Benicks, the Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan on Monday ordered the en masse transfer of all uniformed personnel at the Sattankulam police station where the two were allegedly tortured. Two new Sub-Inspectors of police and 30 personnel were posted with immediate effect.
The decision came on a day the Principal District and Sessions Judge informed the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) that the police was not cooperating with the judicial inquiry into the incident. On Sunday, the Sattankulam Inspector Sridhar was suspended from service and a new Station House Officer F. Bernard Xavier from Kanniyakumari district was posted.
Earlier, two SIs – Raghu Ganesh and Balakrishnan, and head constable Murugan and another policeman Muthuraj were suspended. SIs Manimaran and S. Muthumari were posted in the station.
The new postings also included seven head constables, one woman head constable, 16 policemen and two women constables.
On the directions of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, the Thoothukudi district Chief Judicial Magistrate Hema and Judicial Magistrate Bharatidasan had visited the police station over the last three days and gathered information on the circumstances and sequence of events leading to the death of the father and son.
The judges recorded the statements of the family members, friends, relatives and well-wishers, who had knowledge about the entire issue beginning from June 19.
Sources said that the judicial officers spent about 16 hours at the police station and about eight hours at the Kovilpatti sub-jail. During their questioning, there were only two policemen in the station, who did not respond properly to the CJM and JM, the sources added. The judicial officers also heard complaints about the high-handedness of some of the police officers in the station with regard to other petitions also.
Mr. Bharatidasan had also independently inquired with some of the witnesses at Tiruchendur, wherein the relatives of Jayaraj and Benicks handed him the bloodstained clothes of the deceased traders.