No action has been taken following the horrifying caste violence in Pennagaram even after weeks. A family was brutally assaulted here in Pennagaram taluk of Dharmapuri district, after an inter-caste couple reportedly eloped. On July 24, the family of the boy was tied to a tree and whipped, while the women were stripped allegedly by the girl’s family.
So far, the police have registered a case against six accused under Section 149 for unlawful assembly and Section 323 for voluntarily causing hurt for attacking one of the older males in the family. The victim family hasn't been pressing charges reportedly, as they are scared of retribution. The case was registered after the images of the said incident were shared on social media.
Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) has condemned the incident and has demanded that action be taken against the culprits.
The boy belongs to Navithar caste and the girl belongs to Vanniyar caste. Vanniyar is a dominant caste in the village. When the relationship between the boy and the girl became an issue among the families, the couple reportedly eloped and got married. They are still absconding.
Right after the couple went missing, the boy’s family reportedly moved to Bengaluru fearing retribution from the girl’s family. But they were allegedly lured back to the village under the pretext of mediation.
When they reached the village, nine members of the family including three women were tied to a tree and were whipped. The women were reportedly stripped of their clothes and were harassed severely. The assault continued for more than eight hours, according to reports. They were then reportedly packed off to Bengaluru, and were told not to speak of the incident. The family sought medical help only after the mother of the boy became severely ill by because of the beating, said reports. Her condition was serious for some time.
The recurring caste violence
The state has been witnessing a surge in the violence in the name of caste in the recent times. From clashes to honour killings, caste plays a crucial role in the social dynamics of Tamil Nadu. In July, two couples – from Coimbatore and Thoothukudi –lost their lives in suspected cases of honour killing within a period of a week.
According to the statistical data provided by Evidence, an NGO working for dalit and gender rights, 185 caste-based honour killings have taken place in the state over the period of five years.
“One of the reasons for the increase in caste violence is the scarcity of public resources,” said C Lakshmanan, faculty member from the Madras Institute for Development Studies.
“Elections are conducted along the caste lines and government schemes are being distributed too based on the caste lines. This makes people think that they have to stick to their caste structure. This leads them to think that they have to protect this structure and stop any kind of mixing. They resort to violence for this,” he added.
He blamed the major political parties for failing in addressing the caste issues in the state. “After 1990, no political parties seriously tried to address the annihilation of caste or tried to bridge the caste inequalities. They get more into caste orientations. The parties, which have power, failed to address this issue. They remained silent, which meant that they took the side of the oppressor,” said Lakshmanan.