Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle
In a suspected case of gruesome ‘honour killing’, the bodies of a newly married inter-caste couple from Tamil Nadu were found floating in Cauvery river near Shivanasamudra falls in Mandya district of Karnataka, with their hands and legs tied. The body of the boy, Nandesh (25), was found on November 13, while the girl, Swathi’s (21) body was discovered two day’s later, as per the Mandya police reports. The boy belonged to the Dalit community, while the girl was from the upper caste Vanniyar community.
The incident has sparked outrage, with social activists and Left parties reiterating their demand for a separate law following a spate of such caste killings in the State.
The couple belonged to Shoolakondapalli village in Bagalur in Krishnagiri district, and was reported missing on November 11 by the boy’s brother. So far, the Mandya police has arrested three people, including the girl’s father.
As per media reports, both the bodies were found on the same spot in a state of decay, with the girl’s head completely shaven and the boy’s partially, raising suspicion that they could have been tortured before being killed.
As per reports, Swathi’s shaven head could be an indication of a common punitive practice used in caste violence among the upper castes.
Nandesh’s head was blackened and swollen with only a small patch of hair on top. An ardent follower of B R Ambedkar, Nandesh frequently wore dresses with the pictures of Ambedkar on it, which helped the police identify the body.
As per reports, after four years of courtship, the couple got married on August 15 in a temple and registered the marriage in September. As both the families were vehemently opposed to their union, the couple eloped to Karnataka. Nandesh was working in a timber mart for thepast three months. All this while, they were reportedly being threatened by the girl’s family.
It was Nandesh’s younger brother who filed a missing complaint on November 11 when he could not locate both of them. On November 14, the Hosur town police, where the couple had been staying, registered a ‘missing’ persons case. In the meantime, however, the bodies were found by Mandya police in the Cauvery river.
According to preliminary investigations by the Mandya police, it seems the couple was lured to a relative’s house on the pretext that Swathi’s family had softened up.
Meanwhile, political parties and social activists in Tamil Nadu, have once again raised a demand for a new law to prevent more such killings.
Caste violence and honour killings are still rampant in many pockets of Tamil Nadu. However, in 2015, the then Chief Minister O Paneerselvam had rejected the need for a new legislation and had told the Assembly that there were no honour killings in the state. He also claimed that caste-related violence and related deaths were very rare and that police always took firm action in such cases.Paneerselvam is now the deputy CM.
In a report published in news portal DT Next, 187 cases of honour killings were reported in the past five years in Tamil Nadu. In some cases, the court has ordered severe punishment, including capital punishment. The historic verdict of capital punishment in the Sankar-Kousaly case is an example. However, the state government is in denial about such barbaric incidents.
Condemning the TN administration, K Balakrishnan, state secretary of CPI(M), who visited the boy’s family in Hosur on Saturday, said the police was not taking any interest in the case. The CPI(M) has been in the forefront of movements against caste violence in the state, he said and in the wake of Nandesh and Swathi’s murders, the party was planning to launch a state-wide campaign against caste violence and honour killings, Balakrishnan added.
Anti-caste activist Gowsalya and film-maker Pa Ranjith also met the boy’s family on Saturday.
Gowsalya told news website News Minute that repeated calls for a separate law had fallen on deaf ears. “There have been over 185 killings….They are still saying there are no caste killings in Tamil Nadu,” she said, reiterating that this crime “cannot be seen as just another murder”.