Chennai caste killing: Senior lawyer says DMK cadres shielding culprits

Senior advocate Bhavani B Mohan, who is representing the family of Praveen, a victim of caste killing in Chennai, called for an impartial probe by the CB-CID or the CBI. He accused the police and public prosecutors of protecting Sharmila’s family from facing the law.
Senior advocate Bhavani B Mohan.
Senior advocate Bhavani B Mohan.
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Senior advocate Bhavani B Mohan, who is the counsel of the victim in Praveen's caste killing case, said that party workers and possibly leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are protecting the culprits from facing police charges in Praveen’s murder. Praveen, a 22-year-old Dalit man from the Paraiyar caste, was killed on February 24 for marrying Sharmila, who belongs to the Yadava caste (classified as Other Backward Class) in Chennai’s Pallikaranai. Sharmila’s brother Dinesh was among the five arrested by the police in connection to Praveen’s murder.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, May 11, advocate Bhavani called for an impartial probe by the CB-CID or the CBI, alleging that the Pallikaranai police and some government lawyers are favouring Sharmila’s family. He said, “Sharmila’s father, Durai Kumar, is in the DMK. He has the backing of several party cadres who are big shots. Even a few public prosecutors are favouring the family. The police investigation is therefore being influenced and the Pallikaranai police are favouring Sharmila’s family.”

On April 22, within two months of Praveen’s murder, his wife Sharmila died by suicide. She had earlier told TNM that she was threatened by her eldest brother Naresh and that her father, Durai Kumar, who was the Deputy Organising Secretary of DMK’s construction wing in Sholinganallur, had threatened to kill the couple after they got married in October 2023. She had said that she had asked the police to accept her written complaint but the police refused to do it.  

Bhavani said, “Even if she didn’t give a written complaint, it is the duty of the State. The Pallikaranai police are obligated to provide protection since they were an inter-caste couple and the police were verbally informed of the threats.” 

He also alleged that Pallikaranai Station Inspector (SI) Yogalakshmi had told Sharmila that she should only name the five accused while recording her statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). “We came to know that Sharmila has mentioned this intimidation in her 164 statement itself,” the advocate added. 

Also read: Chennai intercaste couple deaths: Families blame each other, seek CBCID probe

Bhavani added that the police had, prior to the polling in the Lok Sabha election in Tamil Nadu, promised Praveen’s family to shift the case to the CB-CID, but have failed to follow through. He claimed that the police’s investigation has been stalled and that despite the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act requiring chargesheets to be filed within 60 days, the police has not filed one yet.

The five men accused of murdering Praveen are Sriram (18), Vishnu (23), Dinesh (24), Jothi Lingam (25), and Stephen Kumar (24). They have been charged under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 3(2) (v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

Following Sharmila’s death, the police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) under section 174 of CrPC (police to enquire and report on suicide). “We want the police to file Sharmila’s death under IPC section 306 (abetment to suicide),” Bhavani B Mohan said.

The suicide note purportedly written by Sharmila reiterated her earlier allegations that her parents and eldest brother Naresh had abetted Praveen’s murder, as well as her suicide. 

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