A week after she was abducted for marrying a man belonging to the Dalit community, 23-year-old J Elamathi, who belongs to the Vanniyar caste in Salem district, told police that she wishes to remain with her parents. This after a social media campaign in support of her husband Selvam trending with the hashtag #WhereisElamathi last week, demanding that the couple be reunited and the woman be rescued.
Elamathi married 25-year-old P Selvan, a Dalit man from Kavunthapadi in Salem district on March 9. Their marriage was conducted as per the norms of the self-respect movement and was officiated by Kavai Eswaran, a member of the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK). On the night of their wedding, the couple was abducted allegedly by 50 members of the Vanniyar community including her father and relatives. And while Selvan managed to escape, Elamathi was whisked away.
Based on Selvam's complaint, a police complaint was filed and 18 people including Elamathi's father was arrested for the abduction. However, the police claimed that they couldn't track down exactly where Elamathi was. That is until Saturday, when she arrived with her relatives at the All Women's Police Station and gave a statement that she wants to stay with her family and not with Selvam.
"She came to the station and said that she doesn't want to go with Selvam and that she wants to stay with her family," said the inspector of Kolathur Police Station in Salem, C Chakrapani. When TNM asked whether she was privately questioned about her choice and whether she was under pressure from her family, the police brushed away any concerns. "What can we do? She is an adult and she was ready to give this in writing," he added.
And did she offer a reason for the change in mind? "She said that she realised that her choices would have caused her family a lot of pain," said the inspector. "We will produce her in court tomorrow," he added.
Speaking to TNM, 'Evidence' Kathir, an anti-caste activist, said that the police is clearly favouring one community over another, ignoring the law in the process. "The minute they got a complaint of abduction, they should have secured the woman, given the couple protection and counselling as per Supreme Court guidelines," he said.
"They have conveniently allowed the girl to be restricted in her relative's house and are now claiming they can do nothing about it," he alleged.