The Tamil Nadu government has decided to transfer the probe into the death of a father-son duo, alleged victims of police torture in Tuticorin district, to the Central Bureau of Investigation, chief minister K Palaniswami said on Sunday.
The government's decision will be informed to the Madras high court, which is seized of the matter, and secure its approval before transferring the case to the central agency, he told reporters in Chennai.
"The government has decided that the CBI will probe the case," Palaniswami said.
P Jayaraj and his son Fennix, arrested for 'violating' lockdown norms over business hours of their cellphone shop, died at a hospital in Kovilpatti on June 23, with their relatives alleging they were severely thrashed at the Sathankulam police station by police personnel earlier.
The incident has triggered a national furore, leading to the suspension of four policemen, including two sub-inspectors.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday expressed grief and regret over the death of a father-son duo in Tuticorin and demanded justice for the two.
He said he could not visit Sathankulam, where the incident happened last week, to personally comfort the family, due to the COVID-19 situation.
In an SMS sent to the party's Shakti platform members in Tuticorin district, he said "let us agitate till those responsible for this (deaths) are punished."
"I was aggrieved over and regret the police action that was responsible for the death of Jayaraj and Fennix," he said, according to a release issued by TNCC chief K S Alagiri.
He urged the members to light a candle at 7 pm today as a mark of remembrance for the "deceased brothers" and pay tributes to them.
"I could not come in person to comfort (the family of the deceased) due to the COVID-19 situation," he added.
Bollywood celebrities demand justice for Jayaraj and Fennix
Several stars from Hindi film industry, including actors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Taapsee Pannu have condemned the deaths.
In a Twitter post, Priyanka said such "brutality" angers her and the guilty must be punished.
"Reeling from what I'm hearing. Absolutely stunned, sad and angry. No human being deserves such brutality, whatever be their crime. The guilty must not be allowed to go unpunished. We need facts.
"I cannot even begin to imagine what the family must be going through. Sending strength and prayers. We need to use our collective voices to seek #JusticeForJayarajandBennicks (sic)" she tweeted.
Kareena took to Instagram and said one must work towards ensuring that such incidents don't happen again.
"Such brutality is unacceptable, whatever be the circumstance. As a society, we must continue to speak until justice prevails and work towards this not happening again," the 39-year-old actor wrote.
Ever since the duo's death, there has been immense outrage on social media, with many trending the hashtags #JusticeForJayarajAndBennix and #JusticeForJayarajAndFenix.
Taapsee said she was gutted reading the details of the incident.
"This might just be one case out of many but it takes only one case to begin the snowball effect. #JusticeforJayarajAndFenix It could've been anyone we know. Details are scary and gut wrenching," she wrote on Twitter.
Coming down heavily on the cops, actor Parineeti Chopra said it's unimaginable that the very system which is meant to protect people is turning against them.
"We go to the police when we are in danger. How can they be the danger? Every single cop involved in their death needs to pay for this. I cannot imagine the pain the father and son went through. #JusticeForJeyarajAndFenix (sic)" she said.
Calling the incident a "national shame", actor Riteish Deshmukh said, "It sends shivers down my spine even reading about it. We all must stand together against this barbaric brutality."
Actor-comedian Vir Das said their deaths are "horrific and wrong" and every individual must demand speedy action.
"What happened to a father and son at the hands of those policemen is wrong at every human level and every single person irrespective of place of origin or political belief needs to stand up for them. It is plain horrific and wrong. Demand action," he tweeted.