A 22-year-old Dalit working as a priest in a local temple committed suicide by hanging on Friday after he was allegedly subjected to caste discrimination and harassment by caste Hindus of his village.

S. Nagamuthu (22) of T. Kallupatti village under Periyakulam circle in Theni district had been working as a priest at the Kailasanathar Malaikoil for seven years. He was assisting the main priest and, at times, when the former was absent, used to conduct pujas.

A few months ago, he was asked to keep off on auspicious occasions and festival times as it was alleged that devotees were hesitant to visit the temple where a Dalit was the priest. He objected and was assaulted.

Nagamuthu approached the Thenkarai police to register a complaint and file an FIR against the assailants.

The police received the complaint and he was given the acknowledgement receipt without cases being filed.

Meanwhile, Nagamuthu’s father Subburaj was asked by some caste Hindus, including the Periyakulam town panchayat president, to withdraw the complaint. Nagamuthu approached the DSP, who too asked him to withdraw the complaint.

As the police refused to register the case, Nagamuthu approached Evidence, an NGO based in Madurai.

It intervened by filing a petition before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court which, after hearing the petition on August 31, asked the police to file a case.

On September, 2, the Thenkarai police filed cases under sections 294(b), 323, 506(1) of the Indian Penal Code and section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 against the accused.

Suicide note

Nagamuthu is understood to have left a suicide note that names some persons as being responsible for his suicide.

Besides he mentioned that the police had failed to provide adequate security to him and his family.

The villagers of T. Kallupatti on the Periyakulam-Theni road staged road roko demanding that those behind the suicide of the Dalit youth be booked for abetment of suicide and under provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Police sources said that following the protests, cases were filed against seven members under section 306 of IPC (abetment of suicide).

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