Gowsalya Sankar, the survivor of an honour killing and social activist, has slammed the DMK and its Working President MK Stalin for not calling out caste in the murder of her husband.
Sankar, a Dalit man, was hacked to death in broad daylight at Udumalaipettai in March 2016, by killers hired by his wife Gowsalya's father -- who belongs to the Thevar community.
In a Facebook post on April 14, she slammed the Leader of the Opposition and said, “Let’s take MK Stalin’s condemnation of Sankar’s murder. In that, instead of talking about the truth of why Sankar died or why I was attacked, he simply said it was a murder. The reason for our attack was caste and what happened was an honour killing. He has proved that an opposition party leader can condemn(the incident) by hiding all this. Who does that condemnation save? Who does that condemnation ultimately benefit?”
Gowsalya’s post comes months after her father Chinnasamy was given the death penalty by a court in Tiruppur court for conspiring and hiring men to kill Sankar.
In her Facebook post, Gowsalya wrote, “There is no doubting that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader, cadres and comrades feel a sense of social justice. I respect the feeling of the DMK whose heart ached for Sankar’s passing. Individually they could all be caste abolitionists. All that is different. I have also come to know of some good activities that DMK has conducted for social justice. At the same time, my central questions are: What is DMK’s stance on all these years of caste violence that has taken place in Tamil Nadu? Did it sound like the voice of the oppressed? A party that projects candidates by seeing and asking for their caste- who side will it be on when it comes to caste crimes? Whose side has it stood on? How is it possible to join with Congress and defeat Hindutva? Isn’t Ram Rajya a dream of the Congress as well? These questions demand answers.”
Gowsalya also said she was making a list of DMK’s stance on the various caste related crimes. She wrote, “I am making a list of DMK's stance on many such caste crimes. I will post that shortly. We will take that into consideration and talk. I'm determined to talk about it patiently. I'm not going to back track.”
She also addressed criticism that she was being misled by certain social justice leaders. “One final thing. You are ready to portray me as someone without individual agency. That plays with my self-respect. There are senior comrades to guide me. They are guiding me in my speech and my writing. Other than that, what I write, what I speak and my opinions that I share are my own. I'm not a tool to be used by someone else. Portraying me as being without agency, and the ability to make my own distinctions only reveals your fears. Speak opinions. Speak about the list I will be giving on DMK. I will shrug off the slander. Replies will only be for opinions. I will post soon. Without leaving our love, let's truly debate on caste abolition,” she said.
However, soon after her post went viral, several on social media condemned her, even resorting to abuse. Their main contention? A woman cannot hold a nuanced opinion on those who expressed solidarity with her grief.
While one person said, "In the end, it appears even she has political aspirations," another said, "Next she will say PMK was the upholder of social justice in Tamil Nadu."
There were those who immediately started comparing the DMK and AIADMK, “Whether it is right or wrong, at least DMK has said this. Show your anger on AIADMK which has not even voiced anything,” said one comment.
Gowsalya said that she was addressing these issues now because she had spoken about it at an April 8 event conducted by the VCK. Reacting to the trolling and abuse online, DMK leader Kanimozhi told The Hindu that all personal criticism against Gowsalya must stop, saying that one point should be countered with another and not abuse.
Speaking to TNM, Evidence Kathir, who runs an anti-caste NGO, who has stood by Gowsalya since her ordeal says, “How can these political parties come and talk in such a vulgar manner about this girl who has been fighting for the annihilation of caste discrimination? Kanimozhi has said another argument has to be made in this case but shouldn’t she actually say that such statements against Gowsalya should stop? These people are saying they have done so much for her and she is talking like this. How can they even say something like that? If this is how they are going to behave, let them not do anything for people who fight against social injustice. In 2014, Kalaignar had read out a list of honour killings in TN and acknowledged these caste crimes so why is Shankar’s death just a murder? It should be acknowledged as a caste crime.”