Father and son had been arrested for violating anti-Covid-19 regulations. Victims’ family: Taken to hospital after three days of beatings and torture. Tamil Nadu authorities suspend four officers. Suspicions of a community feud. Card. Gracias: Unacceptable violence. Social ethics and the judicial system under scrutiny.
Kovilpatti (AsiaNews) - India now has its own George Floyd case, reminiscent of the murder of the unarmed African American man las May by officers from the Minneapolis police force. Two Christians in pre-trial detention for violating anti-Covid-19 standards died in hospital from injuries sustained during beatings and torture inflicted by the police who arrested them.
The incident occurred in the Thoothukudi district (Tamil Nadu). Jayaraj (52) and his son J. Fenix (31) were arrested on June 19, for keeping their phone shop open beyond the allowed hours. The two Protestant faithful were members of the "nadar" caste which, although considered by law among the disadvantaged, has a certain political and social weight in the southern Indian state.
Family members say the officers changed the bloody clothes of the two victims several times, transporting them to the hospital only on June 22nd. Fenix died the same night; his father the next day.
As in the case of Floyd in the United States, the death of the two nadar Christians has sparked a public outcry, especially on social media. Many traders in Tamil Nadu went on strike and staged public demonstrations in protest.
Father Mariadas Lipton, from the local diocese of Tuticorin, says that the whole country, regardless of caste or religion, is outraged by what happened to Jayaraj and Fenix. Jignesh Mevani, a deputy from the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat, appealed to Indians to follow demonstrators in the United States and take to the streets in thousands to protest the killing of the "many George Floyd of India".
Card. Oswald Gracias, president of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), condemned the barbaric murder: “Such violence from those who should defend citizens is unacceptable. Justice must run its course and punish the guilty ”. The All India Catholic Union also called for intervention by the authorities.
The Tamil Nadu government said it had opened an investigation. Four policemen, including two deputy inspectors, have been suspended. One of them, SI Raghuganesh, is suspected of having acted on behalf of his own caste, which is in conflict with the nadar (Hindu and Christian) community.
For Father Nithiya OFM, former secretary of the CBCI National Commission for Justice and Peace, what happened is a new low point for the nation, its culture and its society: “Our social ethics, individual ethics, the way we treat people, the Indian legal system, everything is now in question."