CHENNAI, India (Reuters) - Five more policemen were arrested in a widening investigation into the deaths of a father and his son while in police custody in southern India, an officer said on Thursday, in a case that has put policing in the country under a spotlight.
J Jayaraj, 59, and Bennicks Immanuel, 31, were detained for allegedly violating coronavirus lockdown rules in the town of Sathankulam last month and subjected to a brutal thrashing that resulted in rectal bleeding and eventual death, according to a letter to government officials written by Jayaraj’s wife J Selvaran.
Police Inspector General K Shankar said the five policemen arrested on Wednesday were accused of holding the two men down in a police station in Tamil Nadu state while others beat them.
“They have been held for abetment,” Shankar said.
Five other policemen are already in custody and face charges of murder in a case that people on social media have compared with the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police in the United States.
India’s federal police will soon take over the investigation from the state police.
India’s National Human Rights Commission says there are nearly 15 cases of custodial violence and torture reported each day from the country and that “it has become almost routine.”
The father-son duo were accused of keeping their mobile phone shop open despite the lockdown, an offence that at worst would have got them three months in prison, legal experts said.
Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan