In a gruesome incident in Tamil Nadu, a 38-year old trans woman priest and Bharatanatyam artiste was brutally murdered in Thoothukudi. The deceased has been identified as Rajathi, whose mutilated body was found inside the sanctum of the Mariamman temple which she had been running, on Friday morning. Sources say that she had been beheaded and her head left outside the temple premises by 2 men who lived in the vicinity.
Rajathi had been working as a priest at the temple in SS Manikapuram area in Thoothukudi for the past few years. The main accused is identified as 23-year-old Maruthu, who owns the land on which Rajathi's temple is built. According to the police, Maruthu, along with his aide, is said to have visited the temple with a sickle when Rajathi was performing a pooja inside the sanctum on Friday morning
Maruthu and his aide then attacked her, chopped her body and placed her head outside the temple, Grace Banu, the founder of Trans Rights Now Collective and a native of Thoothukudi, told TNM. According to sources from the trans community, the accused was harassing Rajathi for the past one year.
“We heard that he used to threaten her and shout at her as the land belonged to his grandmother. She had been getting calls from him for the past one year,” Grace says.
According to sources from Thoothukudi, Rajathi had been in a relationship with Maruthu previously. The duo had a falling out recently following which Maruthu stopped visiting the temple.
"Maruthi and his brothers own the land where this temple is located. After the falling out, it was just Rajathi who was taking care of the temple affairs. A few days ago, Maruthu learnt that she had entered into a relationship with another man. It was following this that the bloodshed took place. Besides this, the 5 brothers also used to harass Rajathi and the trans women who would come to the temple to pray. When she took over the temple, we feel they feared that the temple would fall into the hands of the trans community," the source from the community, who did not want to be named, told TNM.
Meanwhile, both the accused have been absconding post the incident, according to sources. Rajathi’s remains have been sent for post mortem and an investigation has been initiated. The funeral ceremony will be held in Thoothukudi on Saturday.
Speaking to TNM, Rajamani, the sub-inspector of Thoothukudi North police station added, “We have registered an FIR in the case. The accused has been identified as a 23-year old man who lives in the same area. No arrest has been made until now.”