Jeyaraj and his son Beniks were arrested on June 19 for alleged violation of prohibitory orders
The Tamil Nadu Police today arrested a head constable in connection with the death of a man and his son due to alleged torture in police custody in Tuticorin.
Head Constable Muthuraj is the fifth cop to be arrested by the CB-CID wing of the Tamil Nadu Police over the deaths.
The arrest comes days after the First Information Reports or FIRs were altered in the case to incorporate murder charges against the police.
"We arrested Muthuraj earlier today", said Shankar, Inspector General, CB-CID.
The CB-CID has also summoned the editor of a portal that had reportedly published pictures of the father and son - Jeyaraj and Beniks - with injuries on chest, neck and other parts.
The CB-CID claims these do not match with the injuries noted in the post-mortem report.
The death of the father and son last month had sparked national outrage. Many compared it to the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died due to torture by a white police officer in the US.
On June 19, the men were arrested for allegedly keeping their mobile shop open beyond 8 pm. The family alleged they were tortured at the police station the whole night. Giving details they said they found evidence of bleeding rectum, chest hair being pulled and other tell-tale signs of brutality.
The men who were put behind bars on the 20th at the Kovilpatti jail died one after another.
On the 22nd, Beniks complained of severe chest pain and died in the hospital. The next day the father who complained of fever too died at the hospital.
The limited CCTV footage that has emerged does not show any argument with the police or the duo rolling over sustaining internal injuries as claimed in the police FIR.
Though the state government had transferred the case to the CBI, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the CB-CID to investigate till the CBI takes over.
While the police had only filed a case of suspicious death, the court after going through the post mortem report said there is enough ground to book the police for murder.
The court swung into action following a report by Judicial Magistrate Bharathidasan who probed the case. He had told the court that Sathankulam police had deleted the crucial CCTV footage that could give clues on alleged torture.
He also told the court the police, including an ASP, DSP and a Constable had intimidated him and court staff besides refusing to give documents.
The court had also brought the police station under the control of revenue authorities to enable collection of evidence and forensic examination.
However a key eyewitness, Head Constable Revathy, testified the brutal attack of the two men by the cops the whole night using lathis and cited blood stains on the table and the lathi. The court has directed the police to provide security to her.
On Thursday, the judges also spoke to her and ensured her safety and security. They also directed the department to let her go on leave for a month.
Human rights activists have also raised questions on the role of the Magistrate who remanded the men without reportedly meeting them.
The petty case they say required no arrest in the first place and that he had failed in his responsibility from verifying if the accused had suffered police brutality.
The government doctor who cleared them for judicial remand ought to be investigated, they add. Many have also asked for the arrest of another group of non-police personnel allegedly deployed to attack the men.