TN govt for CBI probe into death of father, son after alleged police torture

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SALEM/TUTICORIN, June 28 (PTI): The Tamil Nadu government has decided to transfer the probe into the death of a father-son duo, alleged victims of police torture in Tuticorin district, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Chief Minister K Palaniswami said on Sunday.

The inspector of Sathankulam police station where the duo was allegedly thrashed has been suspended and replaced with a new official in his place, police said in Tuticorin. The Opposition DMK said the Chief Minister had ordered for a CBI probe due to “intense pressure” from people and political parties, besides the media.

The government’s decision will be informed to the Madras High Court, which is seized of the matter, and secure its approval before transferring the case to the central agency, Palaniswami told reporters in Salem.

“The government has decided that the CBI will probe the case,” Palaniswami said. He recalled the court had by itself taken cognizance of the matter.

However, the family of the victims said they will wait for the next hearing in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday, when reporters sought their response to the chief minister’s announcement on handing over the probe to CBI. DMK President M K Stalin said if the government had the determination to provide justice in this matter, those allegedly involved in the incident would not be “roaming free” even now.

“The chief minister has transferred the probe to the CBI due to intense pressure from the people, political parties and the media,” he said in a tweet. P Jayaraj and his son Fennix, arrested for ‘violating’ lockdown norms over business hours of their cellphone shop, died at a hospital in Kovilpatti on June 23, with their relatives alleging they were severely thrashed at Sathankulam police station by police personnel earlier.

The incident has triggered a national furore, leading to the suspension of five policemen, including an inspector and two sub-inspectors. On Sunday, Palaniswami further said guidelines have already been issued to police on how to deal with the public and traders, indicating that the men in khaki must have a humane approach towards them.

“They have been advised that public cannot be disturbed. If there is any issue, a case has to be filed and due action taken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chennai Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan said guidelines laid down for police on handling arrests or accused persons include not even using hurtful language against them, even as beating them up was “unlawful.”

He told reporters that there are a number of guidelines, besides Supreme Court directions, vis-a-vis arrests.

“Assault and torture (of the arrested) should not be done. As far as the Greater Chennai Police or the state police is concerned, we have reiterated that even language that could hurt someone should not be used,” he said.

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