Two months after the death of a father-son duo in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu due to custodial torture, a similar case of brutal assault has come forth from the same town, The News Minute reported on Sunday. Forty-three year-old Martin from Sathankulam in Thoothukudi has alleged that the police brutally attacked him at the front door of his house, leading to his hospitalisation.

Martin had gone out to buy groceries on August 23 when he received a call from his wife, saying that the police were at their door and wanted to see him. “As soon as I got back, the policemen began to hit me, pushed me into a waiting vehicle and sped off,” Martin, a driver, said. “...we drove past the Sathankulam station and they took me to the old police quarters behind the local government hospital. Four policemen then assaulted me through the night, kicking and hitting me till I nearly collapsed.”

Martin identified the four police personnel as Inspector Xavier, Sub Inspector Raja, Constable Sabapathy and the inspector’s driver Chinnadurai. He alleged that the four used their boots to inflict injuries on his hands. The accused then dragged Martin across the quarters and repeatedly hit the small of his back with their elbows. However, the reason for the attack is not clear.

Martin’s family approached Thoothukudi District Magistrate Sandeep Nanduri, who asked that the victim be produced before him. But the police claimed he was not with them. “On the morning of August 24, I couldn’t walk and was breathless, so they took me to the Thoothukudi government hospital,” Martin said. “They told the magistrate I was injured after falling down and was undergoing treatment.”

Martin said the police had picked him up as he borrowed money from a neighbour and had a fight with him after he failed to return it. He also admitted to abusing and threatening his neighbour. However, he said that instead of carrying out an investigation, the police simply assaulted him. He also claimed that in hospital, he was given only water and no food for two days as per the instructions of the police.

“Before I was taken to court, Sub Inspector Raja said he will shoot me if I tell the magistrate what happened,” Martin said. “But I think the magistrate himself immediately understood. I was produced at 7 pm [he did not specify a date] and the magistrate began a complete inquiry. He took me and first gave me some food because I was so weak. I told him everything that happened and he questioned my wife and brothers too before letting me out on bail.”

Martin is admitted to the Sathankulam Government Hospital and is suffering from multiple internal injuries.

The custodial deaths

Jayaraj and his son Bennix died after being allegedly brutally tortured in police custody. They were taken into custody on June 19 for questioning as they had kept their mobile accessories shop open outside permitted hours during the lockdown to contain the coronavirus. They were later sent to the Kovilpatti sub-jail. On June 22, Bennix complained of breathing problems and was admitted to a local government-run hospital. He later died at the facility. His father died the next day.

The custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu had triggered massive public outrage. The state government had transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation after approval from the Madras High Court on June 29.