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Man sets himself ablaze in Chennai after police officer assaults him for failing to pay house rent

The State government had made it very clear, multiple times, that landlords must not force tenants to pay rent till the economy recovers from the shock induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Published: 03rd August 2020 02:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2020 02:11 AM   |  A+A-

Police

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The State government had made it very clear, multiple times, that landlords must not force tenants to pay rent till the economy recovers from the shock induced by the Covid-19 pandemic. And yet, a police inspector and a landlord are alleged to have threatened and assaulted a city resident demanding that he pay the dues immediately, following which he killed himself.

The inspector in question, G Bensam, was swiftly suspended after a video of the victim, recorded minutes before his death, went viral. Srinivasan (42) was a painter residing in Vinayagapuram. He had reportedly not paid his house rent for the last few months, as he had no income during the lockdown period. 

His house owner, Rajendran, who also is a local political functionary, approached the Puzhal police, following which inspector Bensam visited Srinivasan’s house on Saturday. There, Bensam is alleged to have assaulted Srinivasan, and threatened him to settle the dues by the end of the day. 

Unable to arrange money, Srinivasan set himself on fire at around 11pm. He was taken to the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital with 90 per cent burns, where he succumbed on Sunday afternoon. 
In a video shot by his brother Ganesan from the hospital, before his death, Srinivasan is heard saying that he was assaulted by the officer at 7pm that evening. 

“The landlord brought the inspector to my house and they both threatened me, after which the inspector attacked me,” Srinivasan is seen saying in the video, before being interrupted by a police personnel who tries to chase Ganesan out of the hospital room. Express tried reaching out to Bensam for a comment, but he did not respond to calls or text messages. A senior official confirmed that he had been placed under suspension. The officer, meanwhile, also denied that Srinivasan was assaulted. 

Bensam suspended earlier for flashing private parts to woman

Express tried reaching out to Bensam for a comment, but he did not respond to calls or text messages. A senior official confirmed that he had been placed under suspension. The officer, meanwhile, also denied that Srinivasan was assaulted. “A police team went to the house based on the request of the house owner. As Srinivasan was drunk, they asked him to come to the police station on Sunday morning.

They did not beat him up. Bensam has been suspended for intervening in a civil dispute without following proper procedures.” Inspector Bensam has a questionable service record, according to sources. In July 2018, when he was the inspector of Karungal station in Kanniyakumari, he was suspended for alleged sexual harassment.

He is said to have flashed his private parts to a woman over a WhatsApp call and made obscene gestures at her. The police, on their part, alleged that Srinivasan’s neighbours had complained against him eight months ago for creating nuisance. “He was booked under minor sections and let-off with a warning,” said an officer. (Assistance for those having suicidal thoughts is available on Tamil Nadu’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050)

Statement before death
In a video shot by his brother Ganesan, before his death, Srinivasan is heard saying that he was assaulted by inspector Bensam on Saturday. The inspector was suspended after the video went viral.

More from Chennai.

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