Five days after the Chennai police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA’s son and daughter-in-law for allegedly assaulting an 18-year-old Dalit girl, no arrests have been recorded yet. According to a police source, the accused – Anto and Merlina – are absconding and a search is on to nab them.
When TNM contacted the MLA, I Karunanithi, he said that he was unaware of his son and daughter-in-law’s whereabouts, adding that he did not know about the assault. He told TNM, “They have been married for seven years now. I did not know anything about them having assaulted the girl and I don’t know where they have absconded now.”
A police officer from the Thiruvanmiyur police station in Chennai said that no arrests have been made yet since they couldn’t trace the locations of the accused using their phone numbers. A search is underway, the officer said.
Anu (name changed), the Dalit girl, was employed by Anto and Merlina as a domestic worker at their house in 2023 after she completed her Class 12 exams. She belongs to the Paraiyar community, which is categorised as Scheduled Caste in Tamil Nadu. Anu had previously told TNM that while she worked at Merlina and Anto’s house, Merlina beat her, burnt her skin with cigarette butts, and cut her hair short.
Anu also alleged that she was threatened not to disclose the abuse to anyone. She said that the couple had coerced her into signing a document, according to which Anu owed them Rs 2 lakh and hence she had to continue to work with them for another three years.
Anu was able to receive medical attention only after she was allowed to visit her mother’s place in Ulundurpet for the Pongal festival, at which time her mother noticed her injuries. The Ulundurpet Government Hospital, where Anu received treatment, recorded that she was assaulted with a ladle, stick, and hair straightener. She was also found to have abrasions above the eyes, on the forehead and chin, and burn injuries on both forearms.
The hospital management alerted the Ulundurpet police who later informed the Thiruvanmiyur police station as the series of incidents took place in Chennai.
The Thiruvanmiyur police then filed an FIR on January 18 under the Indian Penal Code sections 294(b) (obscene acts), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 325 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 506(1) (punishment for criminal intimidation), and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act section 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) (punishment for offences atrocities).