Jayaraj and Fenix: Outrage over Indian police custodial deaths


There is growing anger over the deaths of a father and son custody in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.   B. Jayaraj, 58, and his son Phoenix, 38, were arrested for hours for letting their stores open - Tamil Nadu is still being locked out to prevent the spread of Covid.

There is growing anger over the deaths of a father and son custody in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.


B. Jayaraj, 58, and his son Phoenix, 38, were arrested for hours for letting their stores open - Tamil Nadu is still being locked out to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The two were placed in police custody overnight and two days later died within hours of each other.

Relatives of the two men said the men had suffered atrocities.

What has happened since his death?
Immediately after being accused of torture, people began demanding action.

Opposition lawmakers from the state took to the streets in protest, a merchant company denouncing police action and a local court took the case to trial.

Police arrested two men and transferred them, and the state government compensated their families by one million rupees ($ 7 10,716; $ 13,222).

The event also made its way onto social media, making it a national headline.

How is the response?
Initially, many questioned why there was no outrage over the deaths of the two men, with many Indians on social media mourning the fate of George Floyd in America who died at the hands of a white officer. A major movement against police brutality.

Many Indian social media users support protests against black Americans against white police vandalism. However, the incident was slow to pick up, as it took place in a small town called Thoothukudi and took some time to gain national media attention.

But in recent times, the issue has started to be curtailed due to heated discussions on various social media platforms. In a video that has been viewed more than a million times, one user stated that "people are sick of not discussing what's going on in South India" because it's not in English, and then both proceed to give a graphic account of the alleged atrocities.

There is also fierce resentment that the police believe that the deaths of the men have not been charged with murder and are merely transferred.

Ayesha Perera, BBC India online editor

The number is staggering. A consortium of non-governmental organizations against custodial violence has released a report in which they said that in 2019, 1,731 people were killed in custody in India. This leads to five custodial deaths per day.

Several methods of violence are also described in the report.

The fact is that torture and beatings have become a major part of policing in India for accepting suspects. The police-involved are rarely punished - often they are transferred to a different district or state.


At a rare time when he was accountable, he made shocking remarks about the necessity of judicial reform.

In a verdict last year, a judge said he was "confident that the victim will not be held accountable even if the victim dies in custody."

In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that each state should set up a Police Complaints Authority, where any citizen can file a complaint against any police officer. However, this is not the case in most states.

Activists say long-range intervention is needed to change the system.

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