Gokulraj’s murder: Dreams of youth crushed by arrogance of oppressor caste

All the ten convicts in Gokulraj caste murder case have been sentenced to life imprisonment till death by Madurai Court on March 8.
Life imprisonment for ten convicts in Gokulraj caste murder case
Life imprisonment for ten convicts in Gokulraj caste murder case
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Gokulraj's caste massacre is another instance of 'bloodied history' by the dominant caste system, observed Judge T Sampathkumar, while pronouncing the judgment in the caste murder of Gokulraj, on March 8. The III Additional District Sessions Court (for cases booked under SC/ST Act) in Madurai sentenced all the ten convicted, including Yuvaraj - the prime convict in Gokulraj caste murder case, to life imprisonment.

The 368-page-long judgment goes into all the details pertaining to the history of the case, including the events that led to the murder and an elaborate account of Gokulraj’s postmortem. The then 21-year-old Dalit youth Gokulraj was abducted from the famous Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple on June 23, 2015, where he was last seen with a woman friend of his. The next day, on June 24, his headless body and his head were found by the railway tracks at Pallipalayam in Namakkal district. It was later found that Gokulraj was abducted and killed on the suspicion that he was in a relationship with a woman from the dominant Gounder community.

This horrific murder shook the state back in 2015 and is still regarded as one of the most henious caste killings in the state. Ten of the seventeen accused in this murder case were convicted by the Madurai Special Sessions court on March 5 and the quantum of punishment was announced on March 8.

The prime convict Yuvaraj (42), who is the President of Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai, a Kongu-Vellalar caste-based outfit, was sentenced to three life sentences, which will run concurrently, and was levied a fine of Rs 15,000. Six others have been handed double life-sentences and one person has been awarded one life sentence. Two other convicts have been awarded life imprisonment, plus ten-years rigorous imprisonment along with a Rs 15,000 fine each. A total of Rs 1.10 lakh of fine has been levied on the ten persons. Five persons who were earlier arrested were acquitted. During the course of the case, one person died while another accused is still absconding.

While pronouncing the judgment, Judge Sampathkumar stated, “The deceased Gokulraj was a young engineering graduate and the youngest son of his widowed mother Chithra. He must have definitely nurtured dreams of reaching heights in life. Also, Chithra must have also hoped to live happily under his care and protection. However, those dreams were crushed by the accused. Only because of the arrogance that they are a dominant caste and a mere doubt that a youngster (who studied engineering) from the oppressed caste was in a relationship with a girl from their caste, he was murdered in a horrific way”. He went on to add that “love does not consider caste, religion, race, etc. These cannot stop or eradicate love”, and continued saying that “Gokulraj's caste massacre is another instance of 'bloodied history' by the dominant caste system”.

Citing that Dr Ambedkar had said that ‘if caste has to be broken, intercaste marriage is the only solution’, the judge quoted a part of Dr BR Ambedkar’s statement mentioned in a Supreme Court judgment of 2020 : "In the words of Dr BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste : I am convinced that the real remedy is inter­marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling, the feeling of being aliens created by caste will not vanish. Where society is already well ­knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is intermarriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste.”

The judge also observed that ‘young men and women who undergo intercaste marriage, are threatened with violence’, referring to another SC judgment.

Following the observations, regarding the quantum of punishment, the judge stated that based on the crime and the events leading up to that, it is only optimal to give them life imprisonment till death. All of the ten convicts have been sentenced till death, which will be running concurrently. After observing that Gokulraj’s mother Chitra had received Rs 10 lakh from the State government, the court also directed the Madurai District Legal Services Authority to provide her with the compensatory fund, under the Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme, if she is entitled.

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