Video Editor: Smitha TK
CCTV footage accessed by The Quint has revealed a few glaring discrepancies in the FIR filed against Jeyaraj and Beniks who were allegedly brutally killed by the Sathankulam police.
The custodial death of 58-year-old Jeyaraj and his 31-year-old son Emmanuel Beniks in Tamil Nadu’s Sathankulam town in Thoothukudi district has sparked massive outrage over police brutality in the state.
On 18 June, policemen on patrol had warned stern action against Jeyaraj and his son as they had kept their shop open beyond the stipulated timings as dictated by the state government during the lockdown. The two immediately shut shop and returned to their home.
The next day, at around 7.45 pm Sub-Inspector Balakrishnan along with a few other police personnel had gone to the shop to question Jeyaraj, friends of the duo told The Quint.
Here is what were the glaring errors in the FIR filed, as analysed below:
1. No Crowds Gathered Outside the Shop
The FIR was filed on 19 June, which was signed by Sub-Inspector Ragu Ganesh of Sathankulam police station based on the complaint received by S Murugan, Head Constable of the station.
The FIR alleged that there was a crowd that had gathered outside the shop.
However, the footage shows how Jeyaraj, wearing a white shirt and veshti, is standing outside his shop talking on his phone. A police van is stationed near him. Two policemen are seeing patrolling the area and speaking to him. They then return to the van and Jeyaraj is seen standing outside the shop. In a few minutes, he walks towards the van.
There are no people gathered outside the shop, as written in the FIR.
2. No Ruckus, as Alleged in the FIR
Friends of Beniks had told The Quint that after a verbal argument Jeyaraj was made to sit in the police jeep to be taken to the police station.
However, the FIR alleged, “The APG mobile shop was open beyond the timings stipulated by the state government. When the police questioned them, the father and son sat on the road, rolled on the ground, used expletives and through this, they sustained a few internal injuries.”
The CCTV footage shows how people who were standing outside the shop inform Beniks, the one wearing an off-white shirt and pants in the footage. He is seen walking swiftly towards the police van.
Beniks’ friend who was with him at the time told The Quint that a cop told him to come directly to the police station for further clarification.
This negates the allegation made in the FIR that they had created a ruckus outside the shop.
In fact, Jeyaraj was already inside the police van before Beniks arrived at the scene.
3. Beniks Follows the Police Van. He is Not Arrested by the Police At the Shop, as Written in the FIR
Once the police van leaves, Beniks is seen walking back into the shop making phone calls. Friends close to him told The Quint that he had made the first few calls to his sister, lawyer and friends to inform that his father had been arrested.
4. Alleged Wrong Timing in the FIR
The FIR was filed at 9.15 pm on 19 June.
However, the CCTV footage shows the timing as 21.44 hours and the shopkeeper who provided the footage, as told by a source, claimed that the timer worked nearly one hour forty minutes in advance.
“At 7.45 pm the cops had come to the location. By 7.50 pm, we were following the police van to the station and by 8 pm everything was happening in the station. The FIR was supposedly filed at 9.15 pm for keeping their shop open that late in the night. But in fact, at that time, both of them were being thrashed inside the station,” alleged a friend who claims to have witnessed the entire ordeal.
Upon reaching the police station, Benny, as Beniks is fondly called by his friends, rushed inside along with over five of his long-time friends to demand an explanation.
At the station, watching his father being hit by the police, Beniks questioned the cops which in turn angered them, said a friend who was witness to the incident.
"The cop had stepped forward to hit him. Benny immediately stepped aside and then the cop chased him around the table. I was standing there watching all this. I was then pushed outside. There were three other advocates waiting outside the station, along with all his friends. The police then took turns to hit them. It was almost midnight when it stopped and then we were made to leave,” said Manimaran, Jayaraj’s friend to The Quint.
“They hit Benny’s bottom repeatedly with the lathi that he began bleeding. When his father told the cops to stop, they did the same to him. The two were bleeding profusely from everywhere,” Beniks’ friend told The Quint.
Following a lot of outrage, the Tamil Nadu state government received a nod from the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Monday to shift the Thoothukudi custodial death case of Jeyaraj and Beniks to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The state is yet to issue a government order dictating the same.
The Thoothukudi police have so far only suspended three persons in connection to these deaths — Inspector Sridhar and two sub-inspectors Balakrishnan and Ragu Ganesh.