TN: Convention Demands Enactment of Stringent Law to Prevent Honour Killing
K Balakrishnan, state secretary of CPI(M) addressing the special convention (Courtesy: Theekkathir)
V Gokulraj, a 21-year-old engineering student belonging to the scheduled caste community, was brutally killed and beheaded in June 2015 in Namakkal by a gang belonging to a caste organisation. The crime he committed was talking to a girl of the gounder caste in a temple.
Ten accused persons, including S Yuvaraj, the then president of 'Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai', a caste organisation representing the gounder caste of the western districts in Tamil Nadu, were convicted for triple life imprisonment by a special court on March 8, 2022.
Such cruel and inhuman incidents of honour killings are frequent in Tamil Nadu, a state known for progressive and radical politics. Many such crimes fail to create any flutter in the political circles, while the accused persons, most of the time, the family members go scott free.
Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), which has been spearheading several struggles against the atrocities on dalits, held a special convention in Chennai on March 21, demanding the state government to enact a special law to prevent and punish honour killings in the ongoing assembly session.
‘BRUTAL KILLINGS BANE TO CIVILISED SOCIETY’
The conference was held weeks after the historic verdict was pronounced in the Gokulraj murder case, which convicted ten members of the caste outfit, claiming to protect the purity of the gounder caste. The mushrooming of fringe caste elements has led to several honour killings incidents across Tamil Nadu in recent decades.
“The civilised society should not permit such brutality to happen in a progressive state,” said Samuvel Raj, general secretary of TNUEF. “The communal elements, for their survival, are spreading venom against inter-caste marriages and use violence to prevent such marriages. The political parties, civil society, youth and students must raise their voices against such cruel acts.”
Bavani P Mohan, the lawyer who argued the Gokulraj murder case, was honoured in the convention (Courtesy: Theekkathir)
Several cases of beheading, poisoning and setting on fire the people who broke the barriers of caste for getting married have been reported, sending shockwaves.
“TNUEF has won justice for Soorakottai Abirami, whose husband was killed by her parents and CBI enquiry is progressing in the Usilampatti Vimaladevi case. Many such cases did not even get reported, given the influence of specific caste groups. We have to ensure justice is ensured for the victims of honour killings,” Samuvel added.
The TNUEF had held a 310 km long padayatra from Salem to Chennai in 2020 demanding special law to prevent honour killings, but the successive state governments have initiated no action.
‘ENACT LAW WITH STRINGENT PUNISHMENTS’
The special convention held a resolution seeking the state government to enact a law with stringent provisions to ensure punishment for the culprits.
“In the name of caste pride and purity, the casteist elements deny the right to select the life partners of the people, though the constitution has ensured such rights. A new law must ensure punishment for those who deny such rights of the people of the country including those who indulge in khap panchayats and other forms of atrocities, the resolution passed in the convention demands.
The convention also noted that the government has not formulated provisions to prevent honour killings as per the directions of the Supreme Court in 2018. The Madras high court asked the state government to submit the actions taken to implement the provisions of the apex court order. TNUEF had filed a contempt of court case in the High Court.
“The government has submitted that special cells have been formed in all the districts, which is not true. The issues relating to inter-caste marriages are dealt with by local caste leaderships and khap panchayats,” the resolution noted.
The state general secretary of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) P Suganthi proposed the resolution, which was seconded by the family members of the victims of honour killings.
UNION GOVT SETTING DIFFERENT BENCHMARKS
The union government has also been accused of acting indifferently in preventing honour killings despite the Supreme Court's directions.
Kolathur Mani, president of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, said, “When it comes to issues like education which is also in concurrent list, the union government is not listening to the demands of the state but says that on special law for preventing honour killings other state governments must be consulted.”
Rajasthan has passed a special law preventing honour killings and mob lynching in 2019 but is still awaiting the president's assent.
“Considering the increasing incidents of honour killings and equivalent crimes including forcibly separating the couples, the state government must enact special law to prevent such heinous crimes,” the convention demanded.
The meeting was attended by leaders of dalit rights organisations, left parties and civil society members.
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