Church leaders called on the Indian government to take immediate action over police brutality after a Christian father and son were tortured to death in police custody in Tamil Nadu State.

P. Jeyaraj, 59, and his 31-year-old son Emmanuel Benicks, who belonged to the Nadar caste, were arrested on June 19 by Sathankulam police on a charge of breaking Covid-19 lockdown regulations by keeping their mobile phone store open outside permitted hours.

The pair were savagely beaten by police and Hindu extremists, and were covered in blood when they were taken before a magistrate on 20 June. Ignoring their injuries, he remanded them back into police custody. Emmanuel died in the Kovilpatti Government Hospital on 21 June, and his father died in the same hospital the next morning.  The police claimed that the father and son had fallen and injured themselves prior to arrest, but CCTV footage showed that all the shops in the locality were open at the time and that neither father nor son appeared to have any injuries before their arrest.

After the true story became public, five police officers were arrested.  A woman police constable, who was the only eye-witness of the beating and bravely spoke up about it, is being given round-the-clock protection by her relatives.

Barnabas Fund