Vijay's family has alleged that he was tortured and killed at the girl's house. Police have arrested her step father and uncle in the case.

Dalit teen in Andhra found dead Murdered for being in love with upper caste girl(Left) Vijay Kumar. (Right) His mother, Bagyamma.
news Crime Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 16:56

He was barely 18 years old. Yennam Vijay Kumar entered adulthood on March 6, 2018. Just four days later, the young man was dead, allegedly murdered in cold blood. His crime: The Dalit teen was in a relationship with an upper caste girl.

The horrific ‘honour killing’ incident happened in K Buddayipally-Perareddy Kottal – tiny colonies that come under the Khajipet Gram Panchayat in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Vijay's mother is an agricultural labourer, and he lived with his grandmother Suvaramma. He was a student of a private degree college in Mydukuru, and he was in a relationship with Manisha*, a 15-year-old Class 10 student at a local school.

The relationship

Like all young couples, Vijay and Manisha would meet secretly, and exchange love notes. Manisha also reportedly owned a phone without her family’s knowledge, and used to keep in touch with Vijay this way.

But around a month ago, the duo got caught by Manisha’s uncle. According to family members and neighbours, the uncle – S Reddy – beat Manisha up after he saw them together, and a few days later, he thrashed Vijay in public and warned him against seeing Manisha again.

Speaking to TNM, Vijay’s guardian and uncle Yennam Chandrasheker says, “When that happened, we told him not to go against the ‘peddollu’ (upper castes). Even the girl was beaten up by her family.”

The teenagers, however, reportedly continued to stay in touch. And just days before Vijay was found dead, Manisha wrote a note to him: “Did my uncle call you? Yesterday, I was caught by my mother and my uncle. They have beaten me up and kicked me. My face and thighs are bruised severely and I cannot even walk. They want me to leave home.” (TNM has accessed a copy of the note, and several other notes from Manisha to Vijay.)

What happened on March 10?

According to Yennam Jayyachandra, a close relative of Vijay, and Chandrasheker, the young man got a call from Manisha at midnight on March 10. Manisha was allegedly forced to call him by her step father M Reddy and her uncle S Reddy. Once he went there, he was allegedly tortured and murdered. “His legs were broken, he was killed, and his body was taken in a car and thrown on the railway track between Kamalapur and Vallur, in order to make it look like a suicide,” Jayyachandra alleges.

The police, however, claim Vijay had trespassed into the terrace of Manisha's house on the night of March 10, and was discovered there by her uncle. They also claim that Vijay was not killed at her residence, but was unconscious, and was taken to the railway tracks before he died.

"The uncle beat Vijay up with a heavy rod, and also called the girl's step father. Both men beat the youth up till he fell unconsious. They then took Vijay to the railway tracks," Mydukuru DySP BR Sreenivasulu, who is investigating the case, says. 

The next day, Vijay’s family members went to the police because they couldn’t find him anywhere, and they suspected that the girl’s family might have something to do with the disappearance, given past incidents.

A day later, their world came crashing down. On March 12, they read in local newspapers that an unidentified body had been found on railway tracks. The family rushed to the Kadapa RIMS – the body was Vijay’s.

The injuries on his body were severe. Enraged, Vijay’s family held a dharna in the village along with other Dalit families and villagers. They alleged that Manisha’s family had a role in Vijay’s alleged murder, and demanded the arrest of her father and uncle.

The case

Based on the family’s complaint, the police have registered a case under IPC Section 302 (murder) and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. And on Thursday, they arrested Manisha's step father and uncle in the case. The car that they used to take Vijay to the railway tracks has also been seized. 

Speaking to TNM, Mydukuru Rural Inspector and Assistant Investigation Officer Hanumath Nayak says, "We are collecting all the pieces of evidence.”

Hanumanth Nayak also says that several suspects are being questioned.

However, activists say that the police were negligent when the family had first filed a missing complaint.

Rights activist Jayasree Kakumanu says, "If they acted on the suspects soon after the family's complaint, then they would have recovered the body sooner. Because of their delay, there was a chance of the body being treated as unknown."

Jayasree has also demanded that protection be given to Vijay’s family.

*Name changed.

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