29th June, 2020
Indian Christian Women's Movement (ICWM)
Twitter: @icwm_india, Tel: +91 9445567405, +91 9820448542
29th June, 2020
Mr. Amit Shah, Home Minister, New Delhi
Mr. Edapaddi Palanisami, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu
Subject: Demanding Justice for the Murdered Father - Son Duo in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu
We, the members of Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM), which is a network of Christian women from the different Christian denominations all over India, wish to express our deep shock and pain, at the death of J Bennicks (31) and P Jeyaraj (63) while in police custody in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu on 22nd and 23rd June 2020.
On the 19th of June 2020, P Jeyaraj and his son J Bennicks were arrested and lodged in Kovilpatti sub-jail in Thoothukudi, for keeping their mobile phone shop open beyond the permitted hours because of the coronavirus lockdown. The father and son duo were taken to the Sathankulam police station in Thoothukudi on the pretext of an enquiry and were tortured by the policemen who inflicted severe injuries on the men. We are deeply shocked by the evidence of sexual torture of the men apart from other brutal physical injuries. Jeyaraj and Bennicks were then admitted to the Kovilpatti government hospital on June 22. While the son died that same night, the father breathed his last on June 23 morning.
We are deeply concerned that thus far the policemen involved in this atrocity have not been arrested. What makes this incident even more heinous is that it is not just the police men who are at fault, but also the magistrate, who is said to have seen the two men in the police van from a distance, but kept away due to the threat of CoViD virus infection and had ruled them to fit. It is observed that the government doctors to whom they were taken had given false certificates of health in spite of several hours of insane beating with lathis and other acts of brutality that they had to undergo. Concerned citizens have stated that the unholy nexus between the police, local judiciary and medical personnel has led to the brutal murder of these two men and this cannot be dismissed as mere negligent acts.
ICWM is committed to challenging violence and injustice wherever it happens and so we demand justice for P Jeyaraj and his son J Bennicks at the earliest. Requesting your urgent intervention in this very unfortunate event that has shaken the conscience of this nation:
§ We call for an independent enquiry by a team that includes human rights activists and lawyers.
§ We demand a just trial and commiserate punishment of the policemen, and others involved in the murder of these two innocent men as deserved by law.
Requesting your urgent action,
Dr Aruna Gnanadason,
ICWM National Convener,
National Team: Dr Kochurani Abraham, Marcia D'Cunha, Rev Dr Jayachitra Lalitha, Dr Joycia Thorat, Dr Lalnghakthuami, Sushma Ramswami, Sr Julie George & members of ICWM
Cc: Mr Sandeep Nanduri, Collector, Thoothukudi
Mr Damodar Sarangi, Director, National Human Rights Commission
Mr Justice Vineeth Kothari, Chairman, Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority
Member Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority