Four days after the brutal assault of a Dalit family in Tamil Naduâ€™s Villupuram, the district police are nowhere close to identifying the accused. Speaking with TNM, inspector Jayavel of Arakandanallur police station who is investigating the case, admitted that while questioning was in progress, they are yet to detain any suspects.
On Thursday morning police had found an eight-year-old boy killed, his 14-year-old sister allegedly sexually assaulted and widowed mother beaten at their home in Vellamputhur village. The bloody scene had left the entire district in shock. The girl and her mother have been admitted to the JIPMER Hospital at Puducherry and remain unconscious.
The Social Awareness Society for Youth (SASY), which had sent a fact-finding team to the village told TNM that it could be a caste crime. But the police denied it.
The District Collector, Superintendent of Police and members of the SC/ST Commission visited the village on Monday, three days after the crime was committed but the lack of clarity on the motive remains.
And while the investigating officer maintains that the horrific crime is merely a case of murder, a senior police official told TNM that it also being treated as a case of rape.
"There was blood on the girl's private parts and there is every reason to believe that she was sexually assaulted," says the official. "Both the daughter and mother have not completely regained consciousness, so we are unable to probe exactly what happened. Making them relive the horror during their brief period of wakefulness may hinder their recovery further," the cop adds.
The official says that in addition to the brutality exhibited on the women, a young child has also been murdered for no reason. A large stone vessel has been used to smash their faces beyond recognition.
"We are yet to establish the motive. But irrespective of the caste of the accused, justice will be ensured," says the official.
The police have formed five teams to nab the accused.
Relatives of the victims meanwhile, allege that the police are refusing to see the matter as it is. "This is definitely a caste crime but the police don't want to admit it. It could be over a piece of land that the family sold," says 28-year-old Kasi, who lives in the same village.
Pandian, the director of SASY had told TNM that there was a land dispute between the family and members of the Vanniyar community.
â€śThey had given 14 cents of land in return for 4 cents of land and cash, but they never received the full amount. The matter was even taken to the civil court. Last month, a huge fight had erupted between both parties over the issue. This particular village has only 65 Dalit families. Next to it is the village of Sevallur, which is dominated by a large number of Vanniyar families. Cases of violence against Dalits, especially their women, are on the rise here, but they have been too afraid to complain," he had said.
District authorities meanwhile have avoided comment to the media and have even kept families in the dark. "They came all this way but refused to even talk to us," says Kasi. "The Collector has not even given us an assurance of justice," he adds.