In a cold-blooded murder, a gang of five un-identified men armed with hatchets and sickles attacked a 22-year old Dalit boy and his upper caste wife, killing the boy in a broad-day light in full public view on March 13.
In Tamil Nadu, clashes between Dalits and upper-caste Hindus are common. In down southern parts of the state ‘the dual tumbler’ is in vogue even today. Tea, coffee or water is served in separate vessels kept only for Dalits. It is a shame this is being practised in a state where during the pre-independence stalwarts like Vaidyanatha Iyer led the Harijans into temple entry protests. This is happening where the social reformer EVR fought this cause till his death.
In the latest incident, a young couple, who recently married after being in love, faced a dangerous onslaught from unidentified miscreants at Udumalpet near Tirupur District where the youth was brutally murdered and his wife was attacked by the gang. The assailants who were waiting, attacked when they came out of a shop after buying their provisions. Before they could realise what was happening, the attackers started performing their assigned job. They chased and attacked Shankar who tried to escape from them. Kausalya sustained severe injuries to the head when she attempted to save her husband from the gang in a crowded bus stand.
After completing their task, the alleged mercenaries fled the scene in the waiting motor cycle. Even though the bus stand was crowded no one dared to intervene to save them from the attackers. The profusely bleeding youth was rushed to hospital along with the wife who had cut injuries on her head. However, Shankar died on the way to hospital. The critically injured woman has been admitted in the intensive care unit at Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital. “Her condition is stable,” said police sources.
The police identified the victims as 21-year-old V Shankar from Kumaralingam Village and 19-year-old Kausalya from Palani in Dindigul District. The couple fell in love while studying at an Engineering College in Palani and got married around eight months ago despite stiff opposition from her parents. Kausalya's relatives were angered by the couple's marriage. But Shankar’s family had accepted the marriage and the couple was living in Kumaralingam village. Kousalya stopped attending classes after their wedding, while Shankar continued his studies.
Police do not rule out the possibility of honour killing as the two belong to different communities – the man being a Dalit. The wife of the deceased belongs to a member of the dominant Thevar caste. The slain Shankar’s father Velusamy, a farm labour said “The couple had faced casual death threats from Kousalya’s family since the day they got married against their wishes”.
Situation has been tense in Tirupur District as Sankar's family wants immediate arrest of the culprits. Some shops have also been damaged in the area. At Komaralingam, relatives of the boy resorted to a road blockade for four hours demanding a compensation of Rs.10 lakh and a government job for Kausalya. The agitated protesters threatened to block the road to condemn honour killings, especially involving Dalits. The family and relatives of the deceased Shankar, refused to receive the body. A case has been registered and the probe is underway. Four special teams have been formed to nab the assailants with the CCTV recordings.
Meanwhile, the father-in-law of the Dalit boy surrendered before the police on March 14. The State Government has been directed to submit a report in connection with the case after National Commission of Scheduled Castes sought a report on the killing. MDMK chief Vaiko demanded strict action against the honour killing. PMK founder Anbumani Ramadoss, whose party is for the welfare of dominant Vanniar community in the MBC category refused to comment and walked out of the press meet. It must be recalled that he had floated a federation of 51 intermediate castes in 2012 which had openly opposed inter caste marriages specifically involving Dalits.