India’s ‘George Floyd’ police officers arrested

Four police officers accused of two Christians’ torture and murder have been arrested.

The police, from India’s southern Tamil State, allegedly tortured and killed two Christian men in custody last month.

A post-mortem report and an investigation helped the court order the arrest of the accused police officers on murder charges.

Church officials and rights groups have welcomed the state high court’s decision that resulted in the arrests.

“The high court has done a commendable job and now we can hope the victims’ family will get justice,” said Bishop Stephan Antony Pillai of Tuticorin.

The victims, a father and son, died in a government hospital.

The son died on June 22 and his father the next day. They belonged to the Protestant Church of South India.

The father was arrested for not closing his son’s mobile phone shop in time in line with Covid-19 restrictions.

His son, who went to the police station to enquire about his father, was also arrested.

A national uproar followed the news of the two Christians’ torture and murder, with people comparing their deaths to George Floyd’s murder by US police.

Human rights group protests have intensified across Tamil Nadu, with people saying the state government was trying to hush up the murders.

The government’s attitude led to the state’s high court ordering a probe by a judicial magistrate.

The probe confirmed police brutality led to the deaths. The court also found the police officials did not cooperate with the probe and even attempted to threaten the magistrate.

In a rare move, the court directed the district’s top administrative officer to take control of the police station. This was “to protect the evidence” against the accused officers.

However, the state government has asked for the court’s permission to entrust the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation, a federal agency. The court has left it “to the wisdom” of the government to decide this.

Church leaders and rights activists oppose the move. In their opinion, the federal agency can start work only after gaining permission through a time-consuming process. In the meantime, the four accused will have time to erase the evidence and escape.

“Since the high court is monitoring the probe, there seems to be no need for any other agency to probe,” Bishop Pillai said.

“Any delay to the probe can damage the prospects of the victims getting justice.”


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