It did warm the cockles of our hearts to hear that at least five police officials have been arrested by the Crime Branch-CID of the Tamil Police, who have registered a murder case under IPC Section 302 against those allegedly responsible for the death of Jayaraj and Bennix in Tamil Nadu.
For, the tragic incident, in which the two traders from a small town called Sathankulam were arrested for violating a lockdown rule, tortured in police custody, locked up in jail without medical treatment and allowed to die, had already shaken the conscience of the nation, nay humanity.
It was a shocked civil society that first raised the demand for booking the men in uniform for murder. But it happened only because the Madurai bench of the Madras high court took cognisance of the tragedy.
Kudos to Their Lordships for taking charge and asking the CB-CID to look into the case and thus ensuring that the popular demand for the arrest of cops was acceded to.
Normally, public outcries over custodial deaths, which are common in India, would fizzle out after the initial anger. Members of the public and leaders of political parties who go up in arms against the police whenever an instance of police torture came to light would soon forget about it.
But as far as the Sathankulam incident was concerned, the various organisations and political parties that raised their voice demanding justice for the two men were determined and persistent.
Sathankulam indeed exemplified that cruelty was integral to the police psyche and that the khaki uniform brings with it an aura of invincibility but the high court drove home the point that all are equal under the law. Well, this is just the beginning.
There is a long way to go for the guilty to be punished, which calls for the consistent vigilance of civil society and the judiciary over the manner in which the case unfolds.