Updated: Dec 1, 2022
“India’s George Floyd…” where is the nationwide protest let alone a global condemnation? Should their deaths go in vain because they are Christian minorities? Or should the voice of the protestors be muffled because it is a custodial death?
On 19th June, P. Jayraj (58) and his son, J. Bennicks (31) were picked up by the Tamil Nadu Police in Tuticorin for allegedly keeping their shop open in the evening for an extra 30 minutes, violating the Lockdown rules. After a phony trial with a magistrate they were taken into police custody where they were subjected to gruesome violence and multiple sexual assaults. Two days later Bennicks and Jayaraj were pronounced dead. The causes of the death, as per the Superintendent of Police, were ‘heart failure’ and ‘high fever’.
These claims have been actively denied by the family of the deceased. Eyewitnesses have revealed Bennicks was sodomized with a baton, ‘’7 lungis had to be changed in a span of 3 hours’’ because of the stains from the continuous oozing of blood from their rectums. They were stripped completely naked and beaten black and blue, their chest hair was ripped with bare hands and their genitalia were indistinguishable.
This article contains such gory details of the case, to provide a graphic understanding of the harsh reality that is not only happening in Trump’s administration but also in India and to make the world aware of what happens if the police is given unrestrained power. The family of the deceased have demanded that a murder case be registered against the two-sub inspectors and have refused to accept the bodies till their demands are met.
The similarity between the Black Lives Matter Movement and this case is the cold blooded barbarity of extra-judicial killings. #JusticeForJayrajAndBennicks has been the topic of the debate on social media. Various regional political parties demanded for action against those responsible for the duo’s death. Certain celebrities have also demanded strict action against the perpetrators of the brutality. However, selective condemnation, particularly within the Bollywood community, has been pinpointed by many. Unfortunately, the exposure and attention that this incident should have received from national mainstream media and Bollywood is negligible compared to that of the George Floyd Case.
The number of custodial deaths in India are startling. A report by a consortium of NGOs against custodial torture show that 1731 people died in custody in India during 2019, which is around five deaths a day. The BLM Movement started as a counterattack to contemporary systematic racism and it has gained worldwide support. However, it is high time to start a similar movement against Custodial Torture and Death with as much international exposure as that of the BLM Movement.
Authoritative abuse is not just confined to India and USA, it is commonplace in many other countries such as China as well. With the controversial trend of #AllLivesMatter and on humanitarian grounds it is important to understand that the lives of the prisoners and the lives of the people in police custody during an ongoing trial are also equally important. This is a topic for discussion that has been swept under the carpet for so long but with the rise of global awareness, the authorities as well as individuals should work to address these issues.