A 15-min delay in closing shop cost two lives

Jayaraj and his son Emmanuel Fenix lost their lives for violating lockdown restrictions. Social media floods with #JusticeForJayarajAndFenix as relatives allege police torture.

Jayaraj and Fenix’s custodial death has sparked nationwide outrage. Thousands of people stocked the roads to pay their final respects to the father-son duo who was a victim of police brutality in Tamil Nadu.

Jayaraj and Fenix were among the common middle-class citizens of South India. The duo was allegedly tortured and thrashed in police custody for violating one lockdown norm, keeping their shop open for an extra 15min after the permitted time.

What Happened?

On June 19, the Sathankulam police officials pulled up Jayaraj for violating the lockdown norms. Jayaraj (59) who owned a mobile store had kept his shop open for an extra 15mins after the curfew. Sooner on Saturday, his son Fenix (31) was also brought into custody to enquire about the arrest.

The two men were booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (use of force to deter public servant from duty) 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), and 506(2) (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

They were allegedly tortured and beaten to a pulp before being released and sent to a hospital. However, the hospital declared them fit despite several eyewitnesses claiming they were still bleeding from being beaten up badly.

Jayaraj’s lawyer who was present during the interrogation shared his horror at the police station.

Advocate S Manimaran, an eyewitness to the brutality said, “We were standing out and we were seeing the whole incident from outside through a glass gate. Fenix and his father were beaten. In the morning there was blood all over the place where they were sitting.”

He said, “I gave them four clothes to change. We had laid down a blanket in the seat of the car when we went to pick them up, Fenix had lost a lot of flesh on his back. He was a well-built man. The car driver was in tears seeing their state. The spot where Fenix sat was covered with blood, the place where Jayaraj was sitting was also all blood. The blankets are still with us. They were beaten to death.”

Other eyewitnesses from the police station claimed that the father-son were bleeding from their rectum and were allegedly sodomized.

Social Media Outcry

The news of the horrific custodial death of Jayaraj and Fenix rocked the state of Tamil Nadu. In Tuticorin, many broke out in protests demanding justice for the innocent. Several trader union bodies, political outfits, activists, and celebrities staged protests against the death of the duo.

Jayaraj’s wife Selvarani has lodged an official complaint and has alleged police brutality as the cause of the death of her husband and son.  The family has also demanded murder charges against police officials. 

Ever since the news broke out, people have been making parallels with the death of African American man George Floyd. The Madras Court has also ordered a probe in the matter. 

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