“If my parents are not the murderers then Sankar should have been with me today.”

Shankar and Gowsalya on their wedding day
news Caste crime Monday, June 22, 2020 - 17:51

“I never expected this verdict. I am shocked and disturbed. I had thought that maybe his death sentence would get commuted to life, but I never thought he would get acquitted.”

Gowsalya witnessed the murder of her husband Sankar in March 2016, in the middle of the road, in broad daylight. Sankar’s killing was caught on CCTV camera, and the visuals shocked Tamil Nadu, bearing testimony, once again, to the caste based crimes being committed in the state. Sankar was a Dalit man, and Gowsalya a Thevar woman, and their intercaste marriage was a thorn in the flesh of her family. In December 2017, after a legal battle, there was a semblance of justice for Gowsalya, and for Sankar’s family – Gowsalya’s father Chinnasamy was convicted as the mastermind behind the crime, and was awarded the death penalty by a Tiruppur District Sessions Court. 

However, this conviction was overturned on Monday by the Madras High Court. The bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar acquitted Chinnasamy – and upheld the conviction of the men who were hired to kill Sankar. The court further commuted their death penalty to a 25-year life sentence, and acquitted 2 others in the case. Following this verdict, a visibly shaken Gowsalya told the media, “We will not rest without getting justice. My legal fight will continue. Till I’m alive, I will not tire without getting justice for Sankar.”

Gowsalya also released a statement about the verdict, raising some pertinent questions. "Who is directly responsible for Sankar’s murder? Is it the people who have been given the life sentence now, or is it the people who have been acquitted now? If my parents were not the murderers then Sankar should have been with me today and this case would have been unnecessary,” she said. 

She also questioned the need for the pronouncement of the High Court verdict in the middle of the pandemic. “When the society is under curbs, the pronouncement of the verdict during this time raises several questions. I would also like to share that the Tamil Nadu government could have processed the case with the required care in an effective way. I feel there is a great difference in the way the government counsel approach me in the Tirupur district court, and the Madras High Court. However, I haven’t lost trust in the courts," Gowsalya said. 

Vowing to continue her fight for justice, Gowsalya said she believes the Tamil Nadu government will take the case to the Supreme Court for hearing. If the government appeals, she said, she will engage her lawyer in the discussion and she will not become tired in the fight for justice.

"I will work fiercely because Chinnasamy and Annalakshmi (Gowsalya’s mother) should be punished. That can be the only justice for Sankar, till I get justice for my Sankar I’ll continue my legal fight aggressively," she said. Annalakshmi was acquitted in the case by the Tiruppur District Court, and this acquittal was upheld by the Madras High Court on Monday. 

Sankar’s brother Vigneshwaran said, “I am disappointed and dissatisfied with the verdict. I did not expect the acquittal. My trust in the judicial system is under question. I thought the court would reduce the punishment but the acquittal is shocking. Gowsalya akka and I will only go out for work so I am expecting more indirect threats from them since Chinnasamy has been released.”

“I heard that Chinnasamy accepted that he killed Sankar in the police station. When the person himself has said it, I don’t know what more is needed and where the justice lies,” he alleged.