Apparently it comes as no surprise as there was and still there is little to no outrage over the deaths of two men on 23rd June 2020 in Tuticorin, TamilNadu. There is a reason behind it. Our Colonial Past. It has so perfectly instilled a sense of inferiority in us that even after 73 years of independence, we still need a ‘Western Validation’ for literally each and every thing (Humanity included) to be acknowledged or recognized in our country.
Civil and Criminal Defamation (under IPC sections 499 & 500 and sections 199(1) to 199(4), Sedition, Morality, Obscenity, Expression of Sexuality, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) this are all too common tools for intimidating and silencing the critics of the government. Jayaraj and Fenix were booked under several sections of IPC including section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 353 (use of force to deter public servants from duty) for running their store beyond the permitted time during prevalent lockdown measures in the state. The immediate action, in this case, should have been the sealing of the shop in the first place but the Father-Son duo were taken to police custody and were brutally thrashed by the police. After the reports of their death went viral, Tuticorin District Collector informed reporters that two sub-inspectors in Sathankulam Police Station have been suspended in connection with the case. Owing to the massive outroar, Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking CBI probe into the matter. CBI has now taken over the investigation and has re-registered the case under the IPC section of custodial death.
In many such cases in India, sadly truth is not accorded the same value as order. The whole force of UP Police could not arrest Vikas Dubey even after 5 days when he killed 8 of their own men. But UP and Delhi police planned to arrest student activists protesting against CAA-NRC. It is evidently clear from these cases that once the feelings of a community are outraged, the question of whether or not the accused did so with deliberate and malicious intent as required by section 295A of IPC frequently disappears into the background.
The environment in the country has been so non-conducive to any form of dissent that many of the George Floyds in India go unnoticed every year. Public servants entrusted with the duty of law enforcement need to understand that states only have a liberty but not a right to infringe the privacy of an individual. Jayaraj and Fenix case is the case of humanity infringement and extreme human rights violation. Much more far-reaching intervention is needed to change the system.