‘Ge­orge Floyds of In­dia’: Out­rage mounts over po­lice cus­tody deaths

Iran Daily - - Society -

The deaths of a fa­ther and son from al­leged tor­ture at the hands of po­lice have sparked out­rage across In­dia, with many draw­ing par­al­lels with the killing of Ge­orge Floyd in the United States.

Their case has thrown a new spot­light on po­lice bru­tal­ity just weeks af­ter the killing of Floyd, an African-amer­i­can man, by a white po­lice of­fi­cer in the US led to world­wide protests, AFP re­ported.

J. Ja­yaraj, 58, and Ben­nicks Im­manuel, 31, were ar­rested on June 19 and ac­cused of keep­ing their store open past per­mit­ted hours in the south­ern state of Tamil Nadu, which has reim­posed a lock­down to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus.

They died in hos­pi­tal a few days later, of­fi­cials said, with their fam­ily al­leg­ing in writ­ten com­plaints that they were se­verely abused by po­lice and had suf­fered rec­tal bleed­ing.

Two po­lice­men in­volved in the al­leged tor­ture were sus­pended, the state’s Chief Min­is­ter Edap­padi Palaniswam­i said.

He added on Sun­day that the case would be trans­ferred to a fed­eral agency, the Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, pend­ing the ap­proval of the Madras High Court.

The deaths in the small town of Sathanku­lam trig­gered a protest last week and shop­keep­ers across Tamil Nadu staged a strike on Wed­nes­day.

“Reel­ing from what I’m hear­ing. Ab­so­lutely stunned, sad and an­gry... the guilty must not be al­lowed to go un­pun­ished,” tweeted Bol­ly­wood star Priyanka Cho­pra Jonas on Satur­day.

“Let’s de­mand for the same jus­tice we did for Ge­orge Floyd,” said ac­tress Krys­tle D’souza.

State politi­cian, so­cial ac­tivist and lawyer Jig­nesh Me­vani wrote that the “Ge­orge Floyds of In­dia are far too many”.

“Will In­di­ans march on streets in thou­sands like in Amer­ica?” he tweeted.

Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the op­po­si­tion Congress party, de­scribed it as a “tragedy when our pro­tec­tors turn into op­pres­sors”.

Sev­eral re­ports by hu­man rights groups in In­dia have de­tailed cases of al­leged tor­ture of sus­pects in cus­tody, with deaths of­ten blamed by po­lice on sui­cide or nat­u­ral causes.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, 3,146 peo­ple died in po­lice and ju­di­cial cus­tody in 2017-18.

“Cus­to­dial vi­o­lence and tor­ture is so ram­pant in In­dia that it has be­come al­most rou­tine,” it said in a re­port.

“It rep­re­sents the worst form of ex­cesses by pub­lic ser­vants en­trusted with the duty of law en­force­ment.”

Con­vic­tions in such cases are ex­tremely rare, ac­cord­ing to ac­tivists.

STR The coffins of J. Ja­yaraj and Ben­nicks Im­manuel are car­ried through the crowd in the south­ern In­dian state of Tamil Nadu.

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