HOW THE TRAGEDY UNFOLDED
JUNE 19: At 8pm, a friend of J Bennicks informs him that his father P Jayaraj has been picked up by the police for keeping their mobile handset shop open beyond curfew
According to eyewitness accounts, Bennicks goes to Sathankulam police station, gets called in for an inquiry. Both are assaulted for several hours; FIR filed against the duo lists several sections, including use of force to deter a public servant from duty
JUNE 20: Bennicks’ friends take him and Jayaraj to the hospital to get their medical fitness test, even as both bleed profusely, changing their lungis several times
Sathankulam judicial magistrate D Saravanan passes remand orders despite their clear lack of physical fitness, and the father and son are taken to the Kovilpatti sub-jail
JUNE 22: Bennicks dies at the Kovilpatti Government Hospital after complaining of chest pain
JUNE 23: Jayaraj dies in the same hospital early in the morning; Bennicks and Jayaraj’s friends and family are informed by the police that they have died
Later in the day, people in Sathankulam stage a protest against police brutality
JUNE 24: Madras high court bench consisting of justices PM Prakash and B Pugalendhi takes suo-motu cognizance, orders Thoothukudi superintendent of police Arun Balagopalan to submit a status report; sub-inspectors Balakrishnan and P Raghuganesh are suspended, disciplinary action is initiated against constables S Murugan and Muthuraj Inspector Sridhar is transferred to a waiting list’
JUNE 26: Autopsy is conducted on both bodies and videographed as per court’s order
JUNE 27: Balagopalan is unable to submit post mortem report in sealed envelope due to restrictions in place because of Covid-19; Court orders that post mortem report, CCTV footage from police station and jail be preserved and submitted on June 30. The Kovilpatti judicial magistrate probe began earlier.
JUNE 28: Chief minister E Palaniswami says government will seek court’s permission to transfer the case to Central
Bureau of Investigation
JUNE 29: Court tells state advocate that its permission is not needed to transfer case to CBI, asks Thoothukudi collector and Revenue officials to take control of Sathankulam police station, as officers not cooperating with judicial magistrate’s inquiry
TN minister Kadambur Raju, along with ruling AIADMK leaders, meets kin of the deceased, at Sathankulam, Tuticorin, on Sunday.