Dalit youth Gokulraj murder: Caste outfit leader Yuvaraj and others convicted

Gokulraj, a Dalit man, was abducted and killed on suspicion that he was in a relationship with a woman from the dominant Gounder community.
Yuvaraj, in a white shirt, giving an interview to Puthiya Thalaimurai channel
Yuvaraj, in a white shirt, giving an interview to Puthiya Thalaimurai channel
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Ten of the seventeen accused in the murder case of Dalit youth Gokulraj in 2015 have been convicted by the Madurai Special Sessions court on March 5, Saturday. This includes S Yuvaraj, President of Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai, a Kongu-Vellalar caste-based outfit. In June 2015, Gokulraj was abducted and killed on suspicion that he was in a relationship with a woman from the dominant Gounder community. Yuvaraj was running an intelligence-network preventing inter-caste relationships between members of the Gounder community and others.

The case was further sensationalised when the Investigating Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Vishnu Priya, allegedly died by suicide. She allegedly died due to the pressure she was facing while probing the murder. 

The accused who are convicted include: Yuvaraj, Arun, Kumar, Sankar, Arul Vasantham, Selvakumar, Yuvaraj’s brother Thangadurai, Sathishkumar, Raghu alias Sridhar and Ranjith. While seventeen were arrested as accused in the case, five of them – Shankar, Arul Senthil, Selvakumar, Thangadurai and Suresh – were acquitted. During the course of the case, one person died while another accused is still absconding.

The accused were booked under sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnap) read with 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 109 (punishment of abetment), 384 (extortion), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) r/w 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 465 (forgery), 302 (murder), 201 (tampering with evidence), 212 (harbouring offender), 216 (harbouring offender who escaped from custody) of the Indian Penal Code and section 3(2) (v) of Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act.

Gokulraj, the victim

Judge T Sampathkumar, while pronouncing the order, said that the quantum of punishment will be delivered on March 8.

Gokulraj’s murder and Yuvraj’s brazenness

On June 23, 2015, the 21-year-old Gokulraj was abducted from the Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple, which he was visiting along with the woman. A group of men took him away in a car, saying that Yuvaraj wanted to speak to him. The next day, on June 24, his headless body was found by the railway tracks at Pallipalayam in Namakkal district. Gokulraj graduated from the KSR College of Engineering in Tiruchengode, in 2014.

A month later, in July, Sankar and Kumar, who were arrested for their role in the murder, had confessed to the crime. Before killing Gokulraj, the accused coerced him to record a video and write a suicide note, police had said. The accused shared the same on social media, to change the narrative.

Yuvaraj, who is Namakkal district president of Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai, a caste-based outfit associated with the Kongu Vellalar community, is known to oppose inter-caste marriages. He had been organising events where he would urge students of his community to take vows to maintain endogamy. He was the kingpin in the anti-inter-caste love affair intelligence gathering network, and went absconding following Gokulraj’s murder. While evading the arrest, he was also using WhatsApp messages to incite passions in his community. Yuvaraj was also a part of a moral policing campaign under the banner of “Campaign Against Inter-caste Marriage Movement”. 

Yuvaraj went into hiding for three months, in the period of which he released six audio messages and gave interviews to Tamil news channels claiming he had no links with the Gokulraj murder case, and also questioned the character of Gokulraj.

Eventually, on October 11, Yuvaraj surrendered himself before the CB-CID office, causing much embarrassment to the state police, and a senior police officer had expressed the anguish by saying, “He surrendered in style. Our officers had to receive him like a hero. We would forget this shame only if we can get him convicted.”

Meanwhile, on September 18, 2015, the DSP who was investigating the case, R Vishnupriya, (27) died of suicide. In an eight-page suicide note, allegedly left behind by Vishnupriya, it was stated that she was under pressure and that she was investigating a sensitive case. However, she also added that the case was not the reason for her death, and that she loved her job. Further, the letter read that a mistake that she made was making her feel guilty and that feeling was troubling her. She also implored her parents to not create problems and to not make her death political or sensational.

Yuvaraj was granted conditional bail by the Madras High Court in May 2016, but was again arrested and jailed in August that year. However, he was refused bail by the Supreme Court in October 2017. He had approached the apex court after the lower courts denied his bail petition. Since then, he has not been given bail. 

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