Tamil Nadu’s long list of caste-killings got longer on Tuesday. A 22-year-old man was hacked to death and his 17-year-old girlfriend was brutally attacked by the man’s own brother, in broad daylight, in Mettupalayam. Kanagaraj’s older brother Vinoth Kumar (24) attacked the couple because he did not approve of their relationship, since the girl belonged to a Dalit community.
Kanagaraj (22) and Divya* (17), both from Mettupalayam, were in a relationship for a year and were planning to get married. Kanagaraj was from the Valaiyar caste, which is a Backward Class community in the state and is a dominant caste group in the region. Divya belongs to the Arundathiyar community, a Scheduled caste in the state. There was staunch opposition to their relationship from both families, and Kanagaraj’s elder brother Vinoth Kumar was particularly opposed to the relationship. However, Kanagaraj’s parents gradually accepted the relationship and were reportedly planning to get him married to Divya.
On Tuesday, around 5.45 pm, Kanagaraj and Divya were at Srirangarayan area of Mettupalayam when Vinoth approached them and started an argument with Kanagaraj about the relationship. Incensed by the argument, Vinoth took out a machete and hacked his brother in the middle of the road. He also attacked Divya and sped away.
Kanagaraj suffered severe injuries to his neck, arms, and head, and died on the spot. Meanwhile, Divya, who also suffered injuries, was taken to a nearby hospital in Mettupalayam and then later referred to the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital for treatment. Her condition is said to be critical.
While Vinoth absconded after the attack, he was finally caught by the police around 12.30 am on Wednesday. The police have registered an FIR against Vinoth under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC and under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Divya’s mother Amudha said, “Initially, due to caste differences, we opposed the relationship and separated them. But both of them were in contact.”
Stating that Kanagaraj’s parents had taken her daughter with them promising to wed her to their son, Amudha said that Vinoth did not like this. “He created a ruckus in the family opposing Kanagaraj’s wedding to Divya,” she said.
On Wednesday, Amudha wrote to the State Human Rights Commission seeking justice, compensation, and protection for herself and her family in the aftermath of the incident.
“Vinoth was always angry about his brother’s relationship. He has come to our house, abused us using filthy language, and threatened me and my family that he would kill us all if my daughter continues the relationship,” she wrote. She also added that one of Vinoth Kumar ’s relatives had issued death threats to her even as recently as four days ago about her daughter pursuing the relationship.
* Name changed.