The tragic end to the love story of Divya and Ilavarasan has highlighted the hegemony of caste in private relationships in Tamil Nadu, especially if it involves a Dalit.
At the time of their marriage — August 2012 — Divya was a nursing student, and Ilavarasan a Tamil Nadu Police Department recruit, waiting for his appointment. A marriage that showed promise derailed after it was dragged into the whirlpool of casteism by those seeking to gain political mileage.
Barring a legal question of the marriageable age of Ilavarasan, who was 18 at the time of the wedding, there was nothing much for anyone to oppose the marriage.
Even after Divya left him and started living with her mother, Ilavarasan was confident that everything would pass one day and he would re-join her.
He was not ready to blame his mother-in-law and argued that both Divya and her mother were under political compulsion to act against him.
Divya also said though she wanted to live with her husband, the circumstances were not in her favour. She never made any complaints of harassment by Ilavarasan or by his mother.
Probably Divya’s statement before the Madras High Cout on Wednesday, ruling out the possibility of rejoining Divya, could have made a dent on his confidence.
CPI(M) state secretary G. Ramakrishnan has demanded an inquiry into Ilavarasan’s death, saying that there was every reason to believe that Divya was under pressure to take a decision to leave him. He noted that Tamil Nadu had a history of social justice, but those choosing inter-caste marriages were made to pay a great price.
“Divya’s contradicting statements before the court should have alerted the judges to go behind the case and who were pulling the strings. It was not an ordinary case, but an extraordinary case that triggered communal violence in the State. I wonder why the court failed to give some protection to Ilavarasan,” said former IAS officer and Samooka Samathuvapadi Katchi founder P. Sivakami.
She said the circumstances under which the death had taken place made her believe that it was not a suicide, but a murder. “Except a head injury, there was no other injuries in his body. It could be murder,” she said.
Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam secretary Viduthalai Rajendran said Ilavarasan was the victim of the Pattali Makkal Katchi’s (PMK) effort to mobilise casteism for its political revival. He said while the social condition in Tamil Nadu was much better, there was no denying the fact the political parties and politicians were encouraging castesim for their own means.
S. Rajnikanth, the advocate who represented Ilavarasan in the Madras High Court, said it was only on July 1 that Divya had categorically said her marriage was not accepted by her mother and that she would continue to live with her mother until the latter accepted her marriage with Ilavarasan.