Splainer

Monday, June 29 2020


Dive In

There's three things you can do… You can just up and quit, you can stick your head in the sand (and act as if nothing has changed), or you can dig in and try to solve the problems.

That’s a leading expert reacting to a new study that has raised serious questions about decades of neuroscientific research. It is standard practice to take MRIs of subjects in a trial and see which parts of the brain were activated when they perform certain tasks. But now we know that none of the seven measures of brain function used by scientists are reliable or consistent. To sum it up: we still don’t know how our brain works. Illustration: Parth Savla.

the big story

A horrific story of rape and torture

The TLDR: A father and son—P. Jayaraj and J. Bennicks—were severely assaulted and tortured by three policemen in a town called Sathankulam near Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Both later died of their injuries. A closer look at the case reveals a history of police violence—which in turn is inextricably linked to caste politics in Tamil Nadu. (Trigger warning: the details of this case are extremely disturbing.)

 

What happened here?

There are multiple and confusing accounts of the timeline. But here is the essential gist:

 

  • On June 18, there was some kind of altercation between Jayaraj and the police. It may have occurred outside the son’s mobile phone shop or outside Jayaraj’s timber shop
  • The next day, the police arrested Jayaraj and took him to the station. The FIR claims that Jayaraj and his son hurled abuses at them when asked to down their shutters—as it was past closing time.
  • Bennicks rushed to the station—where he saw the policemen beat his father. When he tried to intervene, he was also taken into custody. 
  • The men were beaten and raped with baton sticks and rods—even as their family and friends stood outside the station. Their screams were heard through the night by everyone in the vicinity. 
  • They were not allowed to see or meet the two men until June 20—when the police asked their friends to bring their vehicle to take Bennicks and Jayaraj to the hospital for their medical fitness test.
  • The men were bleeding profusely through their rectum: “Between 7 am and 12 pm… the father and son had changed at least seven lungies each as they had become wet due to blood oozing from their rectums.”
  • Despite this, the doctors issued fitness certificates and allowed the police to take the two men to the house of the local judicial magistrate—who in turn authorised keeping them in jail.
  • Point to note: It is clear that they were tortured again after their visit to the hospital and magistrate.
  • By June 22, neither man could pass stools or urine, and their stomachs began to bloat. They were unable to eat.They were then taken to the hospital—where Bennicks died at 8.30 pm that night. His father Jayaraj died the next day at 8 am. 
  • Bennicks’ elder sister Persis described the bodies to reporters thus: ‘Munnadiyum pinnadiyum onnume illeh’ (there was nothing left of the front and rear of their bodies).

 

How can they do this… in front of everyone?

 

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In today’s edition

  • India’s Covid numbers: Why is this happening?
  • Russia paid Taliban to kill US soldiers
  • Locusts have landed!
  • A new art restoration scandal
  • A list of useful face-mask gyaan
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