Nearly three weeks after a 14-year-old Dalit girl from Salem was beheaded by her neighbour Dinesh Kumar for allegedly spurning his sexual advances, women’s rights activists have demanded death penalty for the main accused. Speaking to the media in Chennai on Friday, the victim’s mother said, “My daughter is no more, there’s nothing I can do about that now, but justice should prevail and no one else should suffer in a similar manner.”
Several activists urged that the issue of sexual harassment must be highlighted. “Only if he gets the death penalty will we be at rest,” stated another at the conference. The victim’s sister also said, “I’m speaking here on the behalf of all women, not as her sister. When there are sexual crimes committed against Dalit community members, the government doesn't take action. If this were to occur in any other community, they take action immediately. Not just Dalits, but in all communities we want them to take action."
On October 22, when the 14-year-old girl and her mother were at their home, stringing flowers together, Dinesh Kumar entered the house with a sickle. Though the mother tried to block him, he pushed her aside and beheaded the girl. He then picked up the head and stormed out of the house. He then flung the girl’s severed head on the road and abandoned the weapon.
Dinesh Kumar was arrested on October 23, a day after the horrific murder. While he was booked for murder under the IPC, and relevant provisions of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, he was later booked under POCSO Act. The Salem district administration on November 1 invoked the Goondas Act, ensuring that Dinesh is detained for a year without bail.
Although initially the motive behind the murder was not clear, the family of the victim has claimed that Dinesh Kumar had made sexual advances towards the victim and had murdered her after she spurned his advances.