Church of South India (CSI) General Secretary Adv. Fernandas Rathina Raja, among others, has called for action to be taken against police personnel involved in the alleged custodial murder of Mr Jayaraj and Mr Fenix – members of the Thoothukudi-Nazareth Diocese of the CSI – at Sathankulam, Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.
The father and son had been arrested for allegedly keeping their store open past permitted opening hours during the COVID-19 lockdown, and they died two days after being released from police custody. Their relatives claimed that both of them were subjected to brutal torture. As the gruesome details emerged, the case sparked outrage on and off social media, and gained national attention.
In an open letter to the Chief Minister of the State and The Vice-Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, Adv. Fernandas pointed out that the police officers who had used excessive force failed to follow legal guidelines and procedures, and he also drew attention to lapses by the Duty Doctor and Honorable Magistrate.
Police violence is said to be widespread and routine in India. According to a recent report, 1,700 people died in custody in India last year, and the police are rarely held accountable.
The CSI General Secretary stated in his letter that the CSI, along with the general public, are looking for intervention from the Chief Minister and the Minority Commission Chairperson in this case, and to “take stringent measures so that such brutal incidents does not take place in future.”