The death of a father and son in a hospital after they were allegedly assaulted in police custody has triggered protests across Sattankulam town of Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu, reported PTI. The incident has prompted the Madras High Court to direct the police to submit a report on June 26.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said the police on June 19 took Jayaraj and his son Bennix into custody for interrogation as they had kept their mobile accessories shop open during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. A case was filed against them for not following the curfew under lockdown. They were later sent to the Kovilpatti sub-jail.

Relatives of the two victims accused the police of assaulting them in custody. On June 22, Bennix complained of breathing problems and was admitted to a local government-run hospital. He died around 9 pm, Palaniswami said. Jayaraj, who was also hospitalised due to an illness, died the next day.

Jayaraj and Bennix were thrashed again after they were taken to the police station, even as some of us were witnessing it from the entrance of the police station,” the relatives of the two told The Hindu. The relatives also alleged that the police had sexually assaulted Bennix.

Palaniswami added that four police officers, including two sub-inspectors, have been suspended following the episode. He also announced a cash relief of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the victims. A judicial magistrate has initiated an inquest, he added.

The Madurai bench of the High Court took suo motu cognisance of the case on Wednesday. Inspector General (South Zone) Shanmuga Rajeswaran and Tuticorin district police chief Arun Balagopal appeared before the court. The bench of Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendi asked the police to submit a report along with a video of the postmortem.

Several political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have called for action against officers responsible for the deaths.

DMK leader MK Stalin on Tuesday said Palaniswami, who is responsible for the state’s Home department, should take responsibility for the deaths. Tamil Nadu’s Congress unit President KS Alagiri called for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the deaths, adding that the state police looking into it would not ensure justice.