Koppampatti village in Pudukottai district
Koppampatti village in Pudukottai district

Tamil Nadu Dalit student dies by suicide after casteist attack by classmate

Evidence, a Madurai-based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), conducted a fact-finding exercise in Koppampatti village, and said that despite eyewitnesses alleging that there were other boys with the main perpetrator, none of them have been booked or detained.

In another shocking caste atrocity in Tamil Nadu, a 16-year-old Dalit boy in Pudukottai district died by suicide after he was assaulted by a caste Hindu schoolmate for speaking with a caste Hindu girl. Activists have urged the state police to investigate and book the other children involved in the crime and to declare Pudukottai a caste-atrocity-prone area. On November 3, V Vishnu Kumar, a Class 11 student, who belonged to the Paraiyar community, was assaulted and verbally abused with casteist slurs near Keeranur library while he was on the way to school. The perpetrator was his schoolmate who belongs to the dominant Kallar community. Upset over the incident, the Dalit student returned to his house in Koppampatti of Kulathoor block and died by suicide a few hours later. The Paraiyar community is categorized as Scheduled Caste in Tamil Nadu while Kallars come under Denotified Communities (DNC) within the Most Backward Class (MBC) category in the state.  

Vishnu was reportedly friends with the girl who belonged to the Kallar community. They had studied in the same school till class 10 and had remained in touch even after he moved to a different school for his higher secondary education. Angered by this friendship, the Kallar students warned him not to speak to the girl on various occasions. On November 3, when Vishnu was on his way to school, he was beaten up by a Kallar student who also had a group of other Kallar boys with him. Around 11.00 a.m. on the same day, he returned to his house and took his own life. Before he died by suicide, Vishnu told his grandfather what happened to him. His grandfather tried to pacify Vishnu and promised him that they would file a police complaint against the perpetrators. The investigation report and the FIR, however, mentions only one perpetrator. 

Evidence, a Madurai-based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), conducted a fact-finding exercise in Koppampatti village, and has urged the state government to arrest all the perpetrators. Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, said that despite eyewitnesses alleging that there were other boys with the main perpetrator, none of them have been booked or detained.  

Read: Dalit Intellectual Collective criticises DMK’s lukewarm response to caste atrocities 

Udayalipatti police have registered a case and booked the perpetrators under sections 294(b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 306 (Abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 3(1)(r) (intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe), 3(1)(s) (abuses any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view) and 3(2)(va) (commits any offence against a person or property, knowing that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.  

Read: Dalit teen and sister hacked by dominant caste students in Tamil Nadu 

Evidence has also demanded that the government give Rs 25 lakh as ex-gratia to the family members of the victim and an additional Rs 15,000 per month as pension to his parents. Pointing to the repeated incidents of caste atrocities in Pudukkottai, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi, Kathir urged the state government to categorise these three districts as atrocity-prone zones in Tamil Nadu. He further demanded that the state government form a special police unit to monitor and prevent caste atrocities in areas that are known for such violence. 

The fact-finding report also points out that around 106 caste-based atrocities against Dalits took place in Pudukkottai district between November 2022 and August 2023. This accounts for 10% of the total registered atrocity cases in the state. Pudukkottai now tops all districts in Tamil Nadu when it comes to caste-based atrocities, the report further notes. 

Read: In southern Tamil Nadu, caste pride is turning children into aggressors 

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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