‘Honour’ killing of Dalit youth Shankar in Tamil Nadu: death for six, including father-in-law

Of the remaining five accused, one was awarded the life sentence, one got a five-year jail term and three were acquitted, including the victim's mother-in-law Annalakshmi.

December 12, 2017 02:01 pm | Updated 10:54 pm IST - Tirupur

A file picture of Sankar and Kausalya at the time of their wedding in 2015. Sankar, a Dalit, was hacked to death for marrying Ms. Kausalya , a caste Hindu.

A file picture of Sankar and Kausalya at the time of their wedding in 2015. Sankar, a Dalit, was hacked to death for marrying Ms. Kausalya , a caste Hindu.

In what is believed to be the first such conviction in a case of murder perpetrated due to caste-based discrimination, a trial court here awarded death penalty to six persons, including the father of a caste Hindu girl, for conspiring and killing a Dalit youth who had fallen in love and married her.

On March 13 last year, an armed gang had indiscriminately hacked Shankar, a Dalit youth, and his wife Kausalya belonging to the Thevar (OBC) community, outside a shopping complex in Udumalpet in Tirupur district, with long knives. While Shankar had succumbed to the injuries, Kousalya sustained serious injuries.

The police had arrested 11 persons including Kausalya’s parents Chinnasamy (40) and Annalakshmi (35) and the assailants.

Following the trial, Principal District and Sessions Judge Alamelu Natarajan on Tuesday held eight of the 11 accused guilty and awarded death sentences to six of them including Chinnasamy (prime accused); life sentence to one accused and a five-year imprisonment term to another accused. She acquitted Annalakshmi (Accused 2), P. Pandidurai (A-3, Kausalya’s uncle) and the 10th accused V. Prasanna Kumar (19) stating the prosecution had failed to prove their involvement in the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

The death sentence of the six convicts would be executed subject to mandatory confirmation from Madras High Court.

The court ordered to collect a total compensation of Rs 11,95,000 from the eight convicts which needed to be paid in different proportions to Kausalya, Shankar’s father and the government.

Also read: Will appeal against acquittal of three, including mother, says Kausalya

Death penalty

Among those awarded capital punishment were accused P. Jagadeesan (31), M. Manikandan (25), P. Selvakumar (25), P. Kalaithamizhvanan (24), and M. Madan alias Michael (25), all assailants in the case, hailing from Dindigul district.

Stephen Dhanraj (23) was given life sentence without provisions for remission and M. Manikandan (39 – the A-11) will have to spend five years in jail. Since the latter was out on bail, the police took him immediately into custody on the directions of the judge.

Before pronouncing the verdict, the judge asked the prosecution why capital punishment was being sought for the accused. To this Special Public Prosecutor

U. Sankaranarayanan, cited Supreme Court judgments in four instances where the court had recommended for death penalty.

The instances were related to cases of murder of Dalits – who had married caste Hindus, hiring of people to execute murder and killing people who were in helpless

circumstances. “All these incidents apply in this case”, he argued.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan told The Hindu that the prosecution would study the court order before taking a decision to appeal against the acquittal of the three persons in the case.

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