Tamil Nadu's opposition DMK party will request for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the deaths a father-son duo in police custody in court if the state government does not investigate it properly, party chief MK Stalin said on Saturday as outrage swelled over the incident.
"DMK will seek CBI probe in court if Tamil Nadu government does not properly investigate the murder of Jayaraj and Beniks and act," Mr Stalin said.
The ruling AIADMK on Friday had vowed justice in the case. The deaths were "very unfortunate, anguishing and the AIADMK would never allow such agonising incidents," Tamil Nadu Chief EK Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Pannerselvam said in a statement.
The death of the two men, who ran a shop in Tuticorin following allegations of police torture provoked strong indignation on social media with many comparing the incident to the death of George Floyd in the United States.
J Jayaraj, 59, and Beniks Immanuel, 31, were subjected to a brutal thrashing, which resulted in rectal bleeding and eventual death, according to a letter to government officials written by Jayaraj's wife J Selvarani. The letter, seeks action against the police officers involved.
The police in Sathankulam, a town located 50 km south of the port city of Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu, said in a first information report or FIR that Jayaraj and Beniks were picked up on Friday, June 19 for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules
Beniks died on Monday after complaining of breathlessness and Jayaraj died Tuesday, Chief Minister Palaniswami, who oversees the police in the state, said in a statement on Wednesday. Four policemen, including two sub-inspectors have been suspended and an inspector has been benched by the state government.
Though the First Information Report (FIR) mentions the name of the son as Pennis, his family says his name is Beniks. A Madras High Court document has spelt it as Bennicks.
Lakhs of tweets were sent out using the hashtag #JusticeforJayarajandBennix, that was among the top Twitter topics trending in India on Friday and among the top 30 trending globally, with celebrities and politicians condemning police action.
"The George Floyds of India are far too many... Will Indians march on streets in thousands, like America?" Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani asked his nearly 7.5 lakh Twitter followers, referring to events following the death in police custody on May 25 of George Floyd, a Black man.
Nearly 15 cases of custodial violence and torture were reported every day on average, with nine people dying in judicial or police custody every 24 hours, according to the latest annual report by India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for the year 2017-18.
The NHRC said in its report that some custodial deaths were reported after considerable delay or not reported at all, adding violence in custody was so rampant "that it has become almost routine".