A horrifying case of suspected caste killing has emerged in Karnataka’s Mandya district after the bodies of a couple from Tamil Nadu were found floating near the Shivanasamudra Falls.
The Belakavadi Police found the body of 25-year-old Nandesh on Tuesday. On Thursday morning, the police found the body of 20-year-old Swati floating in the water.
“When we found the bodies, we did not know if it was suicide or murder. However, we found that Nandesh’s younger brother, Shankar, had reported the couple missing and a complaint was filed at the Hosur Police Station on the night of November 14. When we questioned Shankar, he had spoken about how Swati and Nandesh had eloped and that Swati’s family was unhappy about it,” the Belakavadi Police said.
According to the investigators, Nandesh was a native of Soodakondapalli in Krishnagiri and worked at a hardware shop. Swati, a native of Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri, met Nandesh one-and-a-half years ago and the two fell in love. Nandesh was a Dalit man, whereas Swati belonged to the dominant Vanniyar caste.
Nandesh had informed his parents that he was in love with Swati and wished to marry her. His parents agreed instantly and his father, Narayanappa, also offered to speak with Swati’s parents.
Four months ago, during the Soodakondapalli village fair, Narayanappa allegedly approached Swati’s father Srinivas. “Narayanappa asked for Swati’s hand in marriage. Swati belongs to Vanniyar caste. When Srinivas found out that Nandesh’s family belonged to a lower caste, he was angry and refused to allow Swati to marry Nandesh. He forced Swati to go back home with him and she was not allowed to leave her house,” the police added.
However, in August, Swati allegedly told her father that she had to go to her college to collect her transfer certificate. She packed a bag and allegedly slipped out of the house. She met Nandesh in Hosur and the couple allegedly got married the same day.
“Nandesh and Swati also moved into a new house near the Hosur Bus Stand. Both Srinivas and Narayanappa were worried about their children and began looking for them. On November 10, Swati and Nandesh went to listen to Kamal Haasan speak at an event in Hosur. One of Swati’s distant relatives, Krishna, saw the couple and immediately alerted one of Swati’s paternal uncles, Ashwath,” the police said.
Police say that Ashwath and two other paternal uncles of Swati – Venkaraju and Venkatesh – were in Hosur along with Srinivas, still looking for Swati.
Ashwath allegedly informed the others of the couple’s presence at the event. They soon hired a taxi driven by a man named Swaminathan and rushed to the venue. Srinivas, Ashwath, Venkaraju and Venkatesh spotted Swati and Nandesh.
“Srinivas allegedly demanded that Swati go back with him. He accused Swati of shaming the family by marrying a man from a lower caste. They argued about the issue for hours and finally, Srinivas convinced the couple that the issue must be resolved at a police station. He convinced them to get into the Tata Sumo and they sped away from the venue at around 11 pm,” the police said.
Nandesh allegedly got suspicious when the car took a detour towards NICE Road. They were on the road to Kanakapura in Ramanagara district when he allegedly questioned Srinivas. “Srinivas told the couple that there was a famous Hanuman Temple, which they were to visit before resolving the issue. He convinced the couple that he was willing to come to terms with their marriage. But they drove all the way to Shivanasamudra Falls,” the police said.
Upon reaching Shivanasamudra at around 3 am on November 11, Srinivas and his brothers allegedly told Nandesh that it was impossible for the family to let him live after the shame he had brought upon them. The brothers allegedly tied Nandesh’s hand and legs with a lungi, beat him up and dumped him into the water. Swati was allegedly killed the same way.
“When the couple did not return home the night of November 10, no one noticed their absence. However, on November 14, when Nandesh did not respond to any of his calls, his brother Shankar filed a missing person’s complaint,” the police added.
The Belakavadi Police arrested Srinivas late on Thursday night. He is being transported to Mandya, where he will be booked for murder.