Dalit Murder in Tirupur

In Tamil Nadu, once home to an egalitarian political movement, government must ensure caste violence is dealt with firmly.

By: Express News Service | Published: March 17, 2016 12:04 am
dalit death, dalit marriage, dalit and thevar, crime, death, Thevar community, honor killing, india news, nation news Kausalya and Sankar got married eight months ago.

The video footage of an “honour” killing in Tamil Nadu has jolted the nation, and drawn attention once again to the brutal routines of caste violence. The couple attacked on Sunday in Udumalpet, a town in Tirupur district, were engineering students who had met in college. The husband, a 22-year-old Dalit, was killed; the wife, a 19-year-old from the Thevar caste, a backward community, has survived with grave injuries. Her father, whom she named as the mastermind, has since surrendered to the police. The men who allegedly carried out the murder have been arrested. The state government must now ensure that justice is done, and is seen to be done. The message must go out that caste violence will be dealt with firmly and severely and political patronage will not be extended to its perpetrators.

Both the AIADMK, the party in office, and the DMK, the main opposition, are offshoots of the Dravidian movement that held up the vision of an egalitarian social order; both parties swear by Periyar’s radical political views. Both have also colluded, however, in the hollowing out of Periyar’s ideal of social justice. The anti-caste legacy of the Dravidian movement has been forsaken to facilitate a new caste hierarchy, which sanctions the oppression of Dalits by other backward classes (OBCs). It is true that political power has flowed from Brahmins to non-Brahmins in the state, but caste continues to shape everyday social relations. Politicians across parties patronise caste networks and refuse to question their anti-democratic impulse. In such a landscape, inter-caste marriage is seen as a challenge to the established hierarchy and is deeply resented by the rural caste elites. Even as social and economic changes driven by better prospects of education and employment are encouraging young people to step outside the caste paradigms, the social churn is leading to the hardening of caste lines. By all accounts, however, the state government is in denial of the growing dissonance in society. Reportedly, there have been at least 80 incidents in the past three years, yet the state government has refused to respond to the Supreme Court’s directive to states to report back to it on “honour” killings.

Periyar and Ram Manohar Lohia saw the other backward castes as rightful claimants to a power that had long been monopolised by upper-caste elites.

The transfer of power to the OBCs was expected to be a continuous process that would ultimately lead to the political emancipation of Dalits. But the politics of the legatees of Periyar and Lohia has unfortunately turned out to be self-limiting.

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  1. H
    Mar 17, 2016 at 7:10 am
    Some communities in the state keep doing this.Did the politicians dare to speak against it, they will lose vote banks.BTW, periyar,anna durai and bla bla bla concentrated only to transfer power to them from ruling brahmins in the state by gearing the caste politics(reformation as they called it and many believed it).
    1. M
      Mar 17, 2016 at 6:06 am
      Annadurai and Periyar were against only Brahmins and DMK/AIADMK for vote bank politics converted all castes(Both caste Hindus, OBC's ) to OBC's except Brahmins. EVR Periyar never did any reforms except attacking Brahmins and Hindu idols. His followers(DMK/AIADMK) now will do anything to get votes and dalits are left to die like this. DMK/AIADMK are liars and highly corrupt. Tamil Nadu can survive only if national parties come back to power.
      1. G
        Mar 17, 2016 at 10:27 am
        It is like the clic Animal Farm, after the aimals drive away the oppressing masters (in this case the brahmins), the pigs (in this case the OBC) take over the role of the new oppressors. It has become fashionable to deny women a right to choose their partners especially if they are of other caste. These s are encouraged by government and the society which refuse to take strict action against the parents and relatives.
        1. T
          Thom Dougherty
          Apr 12, 2016 at 12:26 am
          The first step is to remove the word "Honor" from these kind of killings. There is no honor in killing for any reason. Killing is a perversion of human abilities. These kind of killings should be called Power Grabs, because they are carried out to give more power to older men in the community who have not earned their power in more traditional and constructive ways. So they kill for power. And then call it honor. So stupid.