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Sattankulam translates into Devil’s Pond. The police station attached to this small town in south Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district lived up to that dystopian name when it claimed two lives in a horrific example of police torture. Till that fateful night on June 19, P. Jayaraj, 58, a timber merchant and his son, J. Benicks, 31, who owned a mobile phone shop, had never stepped into the police station. The father and the son, who regularly donated his AB -ve blood and travelled around with his friends, were law-abiding, ideal citizens.

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“The policemen were emboldened by the fact that they could get away with similar cases of torture. Nothing had happened even after complaints about excesses to the SP, DGP, CMO and the state human rights commission. Even a semblance of action by their superiors would have put some fear into such policemen,” says Henri Tiphagne of People’s Watch, a human rights group.

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