‘Blaming right-wing forces for Dalit girl’s murder is to miss the role of caste’

Updated - March 13, 2018 12:03 am IST

Published - February 06, 2017 11:37 pm IST

Projecting the rape and murder of Dalit girl in Ariyalur district recently solely as violence by men belonging to Hindu Munnani (HM) was to miss the bigger role played by caste, Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions (ICDA) has said.

In its fact-finding report on the incident shared with The Hindu , the ICDA said projecting the incident as a conspiracy of Hindu right-wing forces was ‘convenient’, since it helped suppress the role of the dominant intermediate castes.

Acknowledging that the role of the HM could not be ignored since the primary suspect, R. Manikandan, a caste Hindu, belonged to the HM and his close relative Rajasekar used his position as a HM functionary to influence police, the ICDA, however, said the dynamics of Hindu right-wing forces in Tamil Nadu could not be seen in isolation from caste dynamics.

Stating that members of the HM and other right-wing organisations primarily belonged to the dominant castes, the ICDA said Hindu right-wing politics in Tamil Nadu operated not only on religious lines but more importantly as anti-Dalit politics in the minds of dominant castes.

The ICDA also said the role of political parties like Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) that were operating in the region long before Hindu right-wing organisations started thier work should be blamed even more for the incident since they created a fertile ground for caste oppression through their explicit anti-Dalit politics and propaganda against intercaste marriages, particularly those involving Dalits.

“While the HM played a tangible role in the incident, the caste politics of organisations such as the PMK had played an intangible role,” it said.

The fact-finding report claimed that girl's rape and murder fitted with the template of honour killings happening in the region for many years. “If the male involved in intercaste love or marriage is a Dalit, he is killed and the ‘purity’ of caste-Hindu women is restored. If the female is Dalit, she is gangraped and murdered...,” the report said.

It also came down heavily on the police for their alleged negligence in registering the case and swift investigation of Manikandan even after a kidnap complaint was filed by girli’s family on December 29. The girl's body was recovered only on January 14. The report demanded a CBI investigation in the case.

Stalin Rajangam, J. Balasubramaniam, C. Lakshmanan, Anbuselvam and A. Jegannathan were part of the fact-finding team.

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