The murder of a Dalit woman, K. Vijayalakshmi (21), of Cholapuram village near Rajapalayam in Virudhunagar district is now suspected to be honour killing. The incident took place in April and the police arrested the accused on Sunday, six months after the murder.

The woman was in love with S. Rajagopal, a caste Hindu of Goblapuram, and after a few years of courtship she became pregnant.

When Vijayalakshmi insisted on marriage, Rajagopal had refused stating that the honour of his clan and family would be at stake if he married a girl from a “lower caste.”

Madurai-based non governmental organisation, Evidence, which did an on-field enquiry, found that after continued pressure by the woman to marry, Rajagopal allegedly strangled her. He packed her body in a gunny bag and threw it into a well at Kurichiarpatti on April 5, 2012. Cases were filed at the Dhalavaipuram police station under Sections 302 and 201 of Indian Penal Code.

Both Vijayalakshmi and Rajagopal had been working in a private mill at Nallamanaickenpatti where the latter was a supervisor. Vijayalakshmi, who went for work on night shift on April 4, never returned home.

For almost six months, police were on a hunt to nab the culprit and they even interrogated Rajagopal once. But it was after a joint enquiry by Viralimalai police and Dhalavaipuram police did they find out that Rajagopal was the person behind the murder. He confessed to the crime.

A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, said that honour killings were on the rise in the State and in most cases the victims were Dalits. Caste discrimination was found to be the reason for the killings. The NGO demanded that the accused be booked under Section 3(2) (5) of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and the victim’s family should be given a compensation of Rs.10 lakh. It also demanded that the Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances) Bill, 2011 should be enacted as a law.

More In: Madurai