Crime
Kathiresan’s attackers kept asking him if he thought he became their equal by marrying a girl of their community.
Image: Kathiresan

A 21-year-old, Dalit man was murdered in Tamil Nadu allegedly by three caste Hindu men, ostensibly for breaking a plastic tap in their field on Saturday. The three men have been arrested by the Trichy police.

The man killed, Kathiresan, hailed from Thirupanjili village in Trichy district and was working as an auto driver. On Saturday, at around 6.30am, a man barged into Kathiresan’s house looking for him. “He could not find my brother in the house, so he threatened my mother and sister-in-law. After half-an-hour, he again came back with his sons, in search of my brother,” said Ashok, Kathiresan’s younger brother.

When the three men came to the house looking for Kathiresan, said Ashok, they were shouting – accusing him of breaking the tap in their field. After that, they went looking for him in the field.

Then they tied his hands and took him to a market place and hit him with an iron rod, alleged Ashok. “There were about 15 people who were repeatedly hitting him. My mother and sister-in-law reached the spot and begged them to let my brother go, but they said they are taking him to the police station. Instead, they took him to their field and murdered him. Police found his body on their field,” he alleged.

According to A Kathir, Executive Director of the NGO Evidence, Kathiresan’s attackers abused him over his recent marriage to a caste Hindu woman. “Kathiresan’s mother told us that the caste Hindu men were repeatedly abusing him and asked, ‘Do you think, if you marry a girl from our community, you will become equal to us?’” Kathir added that Kathiresan’s mother stated that he kept repeating that he did not break plastic tap, but his attackers did not pay any attention to this.

Kathiresan had married Nandhini, whose family belongs to the Kallar community, about five months ago. Nandini and Kathiresan had been living with Kathiresan’s family ever since.

The three accused in the case are Thangarasu (57), and his two sons Suresh (37) and Baskar (30). The The Manachanallur police said that an FIR had been filed in the case under Sections 294 (b) (singing, reciting or uttering obscene song, ballad or words in public), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (iii) (criminal intimidation), and 302 (relating to murder) of the IPC, as well as multiple sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Amendment Act 2015, and an investigation is underway.

Kathir added that Kathiresan had also been fighting for the rights of Dalits through political activism. According to a study conducted by Evidence, 25 Dalit activists have been murdered from July 2016 to June 2017.

“These activists have fought for the rights of Dalits – there are many who have fought for inter-caste marriages, against untouchability and so on. The reason for the murder is that they work for the public cause. The government must bring in a special act for human rights defenders, the culprits must be punished in such cases. The culprits are arrested, but there is no further trial in such cases,” said Kathir.