In yet another incident of caste violence in Tamil Nadu, a newly-wed couple was beaten up by goons in full public view in Udumalpet, Tirupur, on Sunday, after which the culprits then hacked the man to death.
Reports said that the victims' inter-caste marriage was the reason why the assailants killed the man. According to a report in The Times of India, the attackers were the woman's relatives.
The police identified the victims as 22-year-old V Shankar from Chavadi Street in Kumaralingam village (15 km from Udumalpet) and 19-year-old Kausalya from Palani in Dindigul district, according to the report.
Eight months ago, Shankar had married Kausalya despite opposition from her parents.
Local police commissioner N Manjunatha said Kausalya's relatives were angered by the couple's marriage. "They married some eight months ago and the woman's family was unhappy. She is an upper Thevar Hindu caste and the man was a Dalit," Manjunatha told AFP.
Another NDTV report said that the two were walking past a market on Sunday when three men on a bike stopped behind them and attacked Shankar with sharp weapons. When Shankar stopped moving, Kausalya was repeatedly beaten up until she fell to the ground.
The TOI report also said that Kausalya suffered severe injuries to her head when she tried saving Shankar from the hooligans.
Another report in The Indian Express says that senior officers have verified the image of the three attackers fleeing on a bike. The report added that while police officials said that a major search operation was on, the police could not ascertain the identity of the attackers until late Sunday evening. The attack took place at 3 pm on Sunday.
According to CNN-IBN, the accused and father-in-law of the victim have surrendered.
Kausalya's father had also reportedly threatened his daughter after she had married Shankar. "Kausalya had filed a complaint at the local police station against her father a few weeks ago, stating that he had been threatening them and insisting that she return home,” The Indian Express quoted a police officer as saying.
According to Deccan Chronicle, Shankar was studying in the final year of BE at a private college in Palani while Kausalya was a junior college student. After the marriage, the couple was living at Komaralingam. Kausalya discontinued her studies and joined a private company near Udumalpet. Shankar had continued with his studies.
The following video is the CCTV footage of the attack:
This horrific incident brings to light the severity of the problem of caste violence in Tamil Nadu. The NDTV report said that this was the third incident of this kind in the state in the last five years.
The murder of a Dalit man over inter-caste marriage brings back memories of the tragic incident in 2013 when a Dalit man called Ilavarasan was killed after marrying a Vanniyar girl called Divya. Ilavarasan's body was found on a railway track in Dharmapuri district.