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TN Dalit movements face political ramifications over  honour killing

- June 20, 2022

Chennai, June 20(IANS)

The Dalit movements of Tamil Nadu that have been raising the issue of Upper castes and backward classes killing the couple, if a Dalit boy marries an upper-caste or backward class girl, has faced a major backlash after the honour killing at Kumbakonam a few days ago.

In a gruesome incident Shakthivel (32), a Dalit youth, hacked to death his Sister, Saranya( 27), and her husband Mohan (32) who was from Senguntha Mudaliyar (OBC) community.

This raised several complicated questions on the murder of inter-caste couples leading to political ramifications for Dalit movements fighting against caste killings and playing the victim card.

It may be noted that the state has witnessed the killing of several Dalit boys for having married girls belonging to upper caste families.

The killing took place on June 13 at her parents’ home , where Saranya was invited for lunch along with her husband by Sakthivel. However, the other two brothers of Saranya, Satheesh and Saravanan, and their parents also didn’t have any problem with Saranaya marrying Mohan.

After lunch was served and when she was leaving home Sakthivel and his brother-in-law Ranjith who wanted to marry Saranya hacked Mohan from behind and then attacked Saranya, killing both of them instantly.

This killing has a major social issue in caste-conscious Tamil Nadu as the Dalit movements in the state have been crying foul over the killing of Dalit boys for entering into inter-caste marriages with upper caste girls.

The question as to how caste-based murders that have roots in caste- oppression, and inequality be defined in this particular murder.

Dr. R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai while speaking to IANS said, “ This has given a hard blow to the Dalit movements who have always been raising the issue of Dalit boys losing their lives for having married upper caste girls. These issues have to be studied in-depth and how the caste is becoming a factor in marriages and how deep the families are affected and antagonized have to be studied in detail. However, the single answer is the Dalit movements need to do a major revamp in their strategies in countering this.”

Samuel Raj, state secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front is affiliated with the CPM while speaking to media persons said, “ This particular murder has brought to light the moral right of Dalits to speak against such caste-based murders and violence. Now those who follow untouchability and caste-based violence will point a finger at the Dalit communities and state that they have also followed this practices of killings and violence.”

He said that these types of murders have strengthened the arguments raised by caste-based outfits.

The Untouchability Eradication Front leader said that activists like him are pushed to the corner and lose the right to question such actions if murders like these happen frequently.

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a prominent Dalit political party of Tamil Nadu was also upset at the murder. Sinthanai Selvan, General Secretary of the party while speaking to IANS said, “ The question of whether this is a caste killing or not is immaterial. Male chauvinism and the violence following this has to be condemned. The perpetrators of the crime should be given stringent punishment.”

It may be noted that former Chief Minister, Late M. Karunanidhi had created a department to campaign against social evils such as caste and gender discrimination but it has now ceased to exist.

Dr. Padmanabhan said that the government, political parties, and social organizations must extensively campaign against such inhuman practices as untouchability and casteism and strive for an equal society. He also said that stringent punishment must be meted out to those indulging in such cruelty.