Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Wednesday condemned the alleged “brutal killing” of a father and son in police custody in Tuticorin and said he was shocked at some police personnel’s inappropriate behaviour with the judicial magistrate investigating the case. The deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix have triggered massive outrage across the country and renewed the debate about police brutality.

On Monday, the Madras High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against Deputy Superintendent of Police C Prathapan, Additional Deputy Superintendent of Police D Kumar and police constable Maharajan after a judicial magistrate alleged that they tried to obstruct his inquiry. “You cannot do anything to us,” constable Maharajan had said, according to the magistrate. He also accused on of them of displaying “intimidating, macho body language,” according to PTI.

“While the entire humanity has opposed the brutal killing of the father and son by torture, I was shocked at the way some policemen behaved and spoke in front of the [judicial] magistrate, Rajinikanth tweeted in Tamil. “All those involved should get appropriate punishment. This should not be spared.” The actor ended the tweet with a hashtag, “#sathyama vidave koodathu [this should not be spared at any cost].” The hashtag soon became one of the top trends on Twitter.

The case

The police took Jayaraj and Bennix into custody on June 19 for interrogation, as they had kept their mobile accessories shop open during the coronavirus lockdown in Thoothukudi. A case was filed against them for not following the curfew under lockdown, and they were sent to custody.

On June 22, Bennix complained of breathing problems and was admitted to a local government-run hospital. He died around 9 pm. Jayaraj, who was also hospitalised due to an illness, died the next day. Their family alleged that they were tortured in police custody.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that there was ample evidence to charge the policemen involved in the custodial deaths with murder. The court said postmortem reports of the two men showed that they had suffered grievous injuries.