In a suspected case of caste killing in Thoothukudi district, a married couple was murdered on the morning of July 3, in their front yard. The victims, who belonged to different castes under the Scheduled Castes umbrella, had been married for three months, and the woman was pregnant. The woman's father, Alagar, has been arrested in connection to the crime.
According to the police, Solairaj, 24, a salt pan worker from Thanthai Periyar Nagar who belongs to the Parayar community, was in love with his co-worker A Jothi, 24, who belonged to the Pallar community. Owing to the fact that they belong to different castes, Jothi's family opposed their relationship. However, three months ago, the couple got married with the blessings of Solairaj's family. They were living in a one-bedroom house in Solairaj's locality.
On the morning of July 3, when Solairaj's mother Muthumari, entered their house to check why they were not awake at 6 am, she found their bodies.
"When she went inside they were both lying in a pool of blood," says Karpagam, Muthumari's sister, "Their heads were hanging off their necks and Jothi's wrists were cut. The worst part is she was three months pregnant."
According to the police, a gang of men allegedly rushed into the house in the wee hours of Wednesday, when the couple was asleep, and attacked them.
"The couple was facing hostility from the womanâ€™s parents over the marriage," says Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan, who visited the spot and sent the bodies to the Thoothukudi Government Medical College Hospital for post-mortem. "We suspect it is a caste based crime," he adds.
Karpagam tells TNM that the threats from Jothi's family began the day she left them for her husband. "Her father and other men came and threatened us and warned us of violence for the marriage," she says, "We went to the police station and complained. They were then warned, so the matter subsided. But now the two of them are gone for no reason."
Karpagam describes her nephew as a hard working man who has held the family together after his father's early death. The family was fond of Jothi too.
"How can they do this to a pregnant woman?" asks Karpagam, "Do they have no heart?"
This comes merely a week after a young inter-caste couple was murdered in Coimbatore, by the manâ€™s brother. Varshini Priya and Kanagaraj were in a relationship for over a year and were planning to get married soon. Hailing from Mettupalayam, Kanagaraj belonged to the Valaiyar community, which is a Backward Class community in Tamil Nadu, and Varshini Priya was from the Arundathiyar community, which is a Scheduled Caste. When Kanagarajâ€™s parents were finally coming around, his brother Vinoth attacked them as he did not want his brother to marry a Dalit girl.