Caste Hindu woman's alleged relationship with Dalit sparks honour killing in village

Madhavan, a Dalit, has literally escaped the noose and is grateful that he is still alive.

On Tuesday morning, he was dangling from a sari, after he was forced to attempt suicide.

But, there was no such luck for Chitra, a 29-year old caste Hindu, who was lynched by a village mob for her alleged relationship with Madhavan.

The honour killing took place on Tuesday just after dawn in Vandal in Vedaranyam. Chitra and Madhavan were bullied and beaten up. Their crime was that their ‘relationship' was not only extra-marital, but also inter-caste.

Madhavan, who has taken refuge in his aunt's place in Ayakaranpulam here, spoke to The Hindu on Wednesday, “I was intercepted by a few men on the street, who made caste references. A mob gathered and started beating me up.” After a while, Chitra was summoned by one of the men. “The moment she arrived, she was assaulted by the men in public.” The mob allegedly dragged her back to her hut even as Madhavan was being beaten up.

“Later, I was told that Chitra had died. I was taken to her hut and locked up where her body was lying. They forced me to hang myself from a sari. However, the thatched roof was too low for the attempt to succeed.”

Madhavan said that he was dragged out into the street and beaten up again, when two policemen arrived on the scene and rescued him. However, despite Madhavan's request to be taken to the police station for giving a statement, the policemen dropped him at the Thalainayar panchayat president's house. Later, he was taken in a taxi to the Thiruthuraipoondi Government Hospital. The police told him to attribute his injuries to a fall from a bridge, Madhavan claimed.

When The Hindu contacted the Thalainyar police station on Tuesday evening, the police said that they were not aware of the incident and no complaint was received. However, according to Birla Thangadurai, member of District Bonded labour monitoring committee, the Superintendent of Police was informed about the incident even as Madhavan was being assaulted by the mob. Mr. Thangadurai said he had alerted the SP and RDO. Calls made by The Hindu to G. Ramar, Superintendent of Police, since Tuesday evening were unanswered.

According to Mr. Thangadurai, the entire incident was hushed up. By Tuesday evening, Chitra's body was cremated. She is survived by her two young daughters.

“Does this imply that a collective murder by a village would not attract suo motu investigation by the police solely on the grounds there was yet to be a formal complaint,” asked Kathir, Executive Director, Evidence, Madurai-based human rights organisation.

According to Mr.Kathir, Section(4) of SC/ST Act, 1989 should be slapped on the police officials for dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.

When contacted, Revenue Divisional Officer Manikandan said the VAO and tahsildar had been told to conduct an inquiry.

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