“We must kill you.”
“She is a curse to the Thevar clan.”
These are just some of the horrifying statements against Kausalya flooding social media after the verdict in the Sankar murder case.
After Tuesday’s historic judgement by a Tiruppur court – in which six persons including Kausalya’s father Chinnasamy’s father were given the death sentence – Kausalya said with optimism, “This judgement has paved way for abolition of caste within this country."
The young woman, who saw her Dalit husband Sankar hacked to death in a horrible ‘honour killing’ last year, welcomed the death sentence to Chinnasamy. "I hope that these punishments prevent future bloodshed in the name of caste. I have complete faith in the justice system and will appeal against the release of three people."
But even as she expressed such optimism, comments on social media and on Youtube channels made it clear that caste pride was already raising its ugly head, and her community was not ready for change. Minutes after the Judge Alamelu Natarajan delivered the judgement, a flood of comments was unleashed online. Most of them questioned Kausalya's morals and condemned her for welcoming her father's conviction.
Members of the Thevar community and caste supremacists, who have been shocked by the historic verdict, have been painting Kausalya’s family as the ‘real’ victims in the case.
A Facebook page called Thevarin Sirappu Seythigal (Thevar Special News) for instance has changed its profile picture to that of Chinnasamy and his wife.
The caption below this picture reads, “Even if you die, you will be revered as the God who helped protect our clan, saving you is our duty.”
Comments below this post, refer to Chinnasamy as the guardian of the clan and blame Kausalya for punishing parents who cared for her well-being.
Other posts emphasised the caste-patriarchal idea that a woman is the repository of her caste, and it is her duty to follow the diktats of her parents maintaining community pride.
A post from a Facebook page called Thevar Media shows Kausalya sitting in her newly constructed residence in Komaralingam, and shockingly 'appreciates' her parents for not committing female foeticide.
Written in Tamil, the post translates to, 'Her parents took loans to make her study instead of killing her as a child. She disrespected her mother and father who brought her up for 20 years. She forgot all their difficulties and in the first year of college itself she fell in love and ran away with a dog... Now, she is giving interviews that her parents are responsible... She is a curse to the Thevar clan... Her life is a lesson to women who falter in the name of love.”
If the insults and allegations of betrayal were not enough, threats were also issued to Kausalya.
Under the video of her statement on Puthiya Thalaimurai's Youtube page, some of the most highly voted comments are those swearing at Kausalya and demanding that she be killed too. In fact, one social media user, Pon Sankar went to the extent of comparing Kausalya to 23-year-old Dhasvanth, who has been accused of murdering a seven-year-old child and his own mother.
The user says, “There is no difference between Dhasvanth who killed his mother and Kausalya who has destroyed her family'.
Another user, Raj Rama, says 'Your parents' curse wont let you live in peace'. And one man who identifies himself as Indian Tamilian says, "We must kill you... feel pity for your parents."
The post that, however, takes the cake is from a social media page called 'Maveeran Valukkuveli ambalam youth Association'. This post claims that as per the laws of the ancient Kallar Thevars, inter-caste marriages were not allowed. The group has asked the Indian Government to take this matter seriously and change the existing law to suit the belief.
"This is all their way of rebelling against the judgement. They are unable to handle the blow that the judgement has given to their 'caste identity'," says activist Panneerselvam, who actively campaigns against caste atrocities in Coimbatore district.
"They thought Kausalya will succumb to pressure and the case will die down but she has stayed brave and that is what scares them," he adds.
Several social media users, however, have come to Kausalya's defence and termed her a 'brave warrior', while others have called out casteist comments and defended the court's decision.
Neither Kausalya nor the activists who have supported her through her struggle are facing online abuse for the first time. But the calls for violence have not gone unnoticed. Kausalya herself has asked for police protection following the verdict.
"The threats began last week but have intensified in the last two days," confirms Panneerselvam, who has been closely working with Kausalya. "We have to ensure that Kausalya is given protection at all times."