The first attempt to kidnap Kausalya happened just a few days after the wedding.

Dalit hacking Sankar and Kausalyas story shows the horrors of inter-caste marriage in TN
news Caste Monday, March 14, 2016 - 19:42

It was the kind of love story which every young boy and girl in rural Tamil Nadu yearns for. This is the story which blockbuster romance movies are made of, and when you see it play out in your own life, it sends the mind racing ahead in happiness.

Sankar and Kausalya were students studying different courses in the PA College in Palani. The couple met on the bus they used to take regularly back home. Love blossomed and they decided to get married.

There was however one major problem – Kausalya was a Thevar, a powerful OBC community, and Sankar was a Pallar, a Dalit.

The clash between Thevars and Pallars in Tamil Nadu is an old one. The conflict increased with time as Thevar hegemony was challenged with the Pallars becoming less dependent on them for employment.

What these two youngsters had to face for their love shows how horrifying it is for many couples who choose to marry out of the caste.

On Sunday, Sankar and Kausalya were attacked by three people with sickles in broad daylight at a busy market in Udumalaipettai. Sankar did not survive the attack and Kausalya is battling for her life, after having sustained serious injuries on her head.

“One of Kausalya’s relative once saw them in the bus. He made some enquiries and found out his caste as that’s really the first question anyone around here would ask. Her parents started threatening and protesting. But she was brave and she was unwavering about her commitment to Sankar,” says a friend who did not want to be identified.

From the time the couple fell in love in 2014, to the brutal hacking on Sunday, their lives have been dotted with incidents of violence and intimidation.

Unperturbed by her parents’ opposition, the couple decided to get married.

Sankar’s father Veluchamy, a daily wage laborer, calls his daughter in law a dedicated girl. “We had never opposed the marriage from the beginning. In fact, my son simply informed me that he had decided to marry. I feel that if two people are in love, caste should not come in between. So I was okay with it. The girl was very nice, she used to take care of him very well, and she was fearless.”

Veluchamy- Picture by Sudhakar

The first attempt to kidnap Kausalya happened just a few days after the wedding. “Her grandfather had visited them for two days and on the second day he left a scooter parked at Sankar’s house. He came back later and asked her to accompany him to the doctor. After the check-up, the grandfather took her to another spot from where a bunch of men kidnapped her. She was taken to her house, but she refused to budge and did not eat or drink for five days. On the sixth day, her grandfather took her to the police station to lodge a complaint against Sankar. When nothing worked, she was allowed to come back,” said the friend.

Two months after this incident, Sankar and his wife narrowly escaped another kidnap attempt. “My brother and sister-in-law went to Udumalaipettai to buy clothes. The girl’s family tried to kidnap her from the bus stop. They created a ruckus at the bus stand and people rushed to help. The police took them to the station,” says Vigneshwar, Sankar’s younger brother.

 Twice in the recent past, Kausalya’s relatives landed up at Sankar’s house, intimidating the couple.

“The torture was constant. Her parents and grandparents came with two men to our house two months ago. They hit and chased Sankar threatening him to stay away,” says Veluchamy, Sankar’s father.

It did not stop even with that. Around two weeks ago, there was apparently a renewed attempt to separate the couple.

“The girl’s family went to their house, threatened to disown her and take her away forcibly. They burnt her clothes and her slippers and said that she was no longer their daughter for staying with him. They said that she was dead to them for marrying him. Is caste bigger than a life? Is it more important that your child’s happiness?” asks Sumathi, Sankaran’s aunt.

Sumathi- Picture by Sudhakar

For weeks now Sankar and Kausalya had barely stepped out of their houses. “She took up a job in a tile factory recently after discontinuing studies. They would both go to work and come back straight home,” says Sankar’s father. 

On Sunday, the couple were in a happy mood. They wanted to buy new clothes as Sankar’s birthday was coming up soon and Kausalya had got her first salary.

“He stepped out of the house for one day and told us that they would be killed only if they stay inside the house, no one will dare to do it in public. But look how brutally he was hacked in a market. This is what caste fury does,” says the aunt.

Also Read:

A brave woman who gave strength to her shy husband, how Kausalya fell in love with Sankaran

Why do we always ask the wrong questions when caste consumes a Dalit's life?

Can we stop the 'mute spectator' rant every time videos of crime emerge?

The stony silence around Kausalya: Injured wife of hacked Dalit man left to fend for herself

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