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‘A rank of police always get away with impunity, thereby they continue using force. They should be made accountable for custodial torture,’ say human rights activist Henry Tiphagne.

Which government handled custodial deaths in a proper manner? DMK or AIADMK? This was the topic of dispute between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in the legislative assembly on May9.

Although cases of alleged custodial deaths have been reported, Stalin insisted that his government does not cover up anything and does not protect offenders like the AIADMK regime. Palaniswami retorted that a thorough investigation was done in the Sathankulam double custodial deaths case while his party was in power in 2020.

The grim truth is that Tamil Nadu is among the states that have a nasty track record in custodial deaths. The state is hailed for its human development index, compared to most other states in the country, but is poor in human rights.

The last available NHRC data for 2018-19 recorded 11 police custodial deaths/rapes and 89 judicial custodial deaths/rapes in Tamil Nadu. Crime data shows that from 2001 to 2018, Tamil Nadu saw over 100 custodial deaths but no convictions.


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