A Tamil Nadu man and his son who died after their arrest for allegedly violating the coronavirus lockdown in June, were tortured for over six hours by policemen who "wanted to teach them a lesson" in how to behave with cops, the CBI has said in a chargesheet on the custodial deaths that angered the nation.
Jeyaraj, 59, and his son Benniks, 31, were beaten so brutally that blood was splattered on the walls of the police station, forensic evidence revealed.
Jeyaraj and Benniks were arrested on June 19 for allegedly keeping their mobile phone shop in Thoothukudi open 15 minutes beyond curfew. After Jeyaraj was taken away by the police, his son, who reached the police station, was also arrested.
The CBI chargesheet says the two were subjected to "several rounds of brutal torture with intervals in between 7.45 pm and 3 am".
Benniks was even forced by the policemen to clean the blood on the floor of the police station using his vest.
The CBI says the police filed a false FIR against Benniks and Jeyaraj to cover up the crime. Investigations reveal that the two didn't violate lockdown guidelines.
Bloodstained clothes of the two men were changed twice the next day, when they were taken to court. The clothes were not handed over to their family but were dumped in the trash at a government hospital, the CBI says in its chargesheet.
The CBI describes, citing various witnesses, egregious torture of the father and son by policemen using sticks. Their blood was splattered on the walls of the Santhankulam police station, which was detected by forensic teams.
"The fact that Benniks and Jeyaraj were subjected to brutal torture by the accused police officials on the evening of June 19, 2020 and the intervening night of 19-20 June in the police station Santhankulam, stands established," said the CBI.
The two were beaten and tortured for hours by policemen, who were instigated by inspector S Sridhar. "In the melee accused Sridhar (Inspector) intervened and instigated the accused persons (cops) in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy to give Benniks a good beating in order to teach him a lesson on how to behave with police," the chargesheet says.
"Whenever there used to be a lull, accused inspector Sridhar used to prod the staff by asking about reasons for silence and thereby instigating them further to start fresh rounds of beating."
Their clothes were removed, they were made to bend over a table in their underwear and their hands and feet were held as they were beaten. "While holding them in that position they were subjected to severe beatings with lathi on buttocks, back and other parts of the body though Jeyaraj begged that given his high blood pressure and diabetic condition he would not be able to sustain such grievous injuries still no one paid any heed and accused police officials continued with several rounds of brutal torture with intervals in between 7:45 pm on 19.6.2020 to 3 am on 20.6.2020," the chargesheet says.
The two died of their injuries on June 22, within hours of each other.
Blunt injuries caused the death of Benniks, according to the post mortem report. The injuries included serious, big wounds "with peeled skin".
The torture and deaths fuelled nationwide shock and rage and triggered a campaign for action against the policemen involved.