Dalit Youth Killed By the Politics Against Inter-Caste Marriage

“I now can really understand the horrendous nature of caste and the heinous things it is capable of after falling in love.” This is what Ilavarasan told a journalist after he was separated from his wife Divya.

Divya returned to her mother’s house and declared that her father’s suicide would forever haunt her, saying she would not return to her husband. Soon after, Ilavarasan was found dead on the railway tracks, with the police insisting it is a suicide, while his family suspect foul play. Ilavarasan was Dalit and Divya, from the Vanniyar caste, and their lives and happiness together have been sacrificed at the altar of casteist and patriarchal politics in Tamil Nadu.

This tragedy has a familiar script. Some years ago, in Kolkata, a similar love story and marriage had a tragic end, with Priyanka Todi returning to her parents’ home and Rizwanur Rehman found dead on railway tracks, apparently a suicide.

In Rizwanur’s case, Kolkata’s top cop and the police force had offered itself as the strong arm of industrialist Ashok Todi, in what the Police Commissioner described as Todi’s natural right to prevent his daughter from making a marriage with someone of a lower class and different religion.

In the Tamil Nadu case, however, it isn’t the parents of Divya who initiated the violence. Ilavarasan had told the journalist in the same interview, “Divya’s father was a good person. He was indifferent to caste. We still don’t believe he committed suicide because of our marriage”. It is widely believed that Divya’s father’s death too was orchestrated to provide fodder for the PMK’s political attempt to consolidate Vanniyar support by targeting the Dalits and inter-caste marriage.

PMK leaders have declared that Dalit youth are wearing jeans, T-shirts, sunglasses, riding motorcycles and wielding mobile phones are ‘luring’ girls of the Vanniyar and other ‘intermediary’ castes. A ‘Campaign Against Inter-Caste Marriage Movement’ has been launched, backed by the PMK, not only in Dharmapuri but in other districts, too. Young educated professional men from the ‘intermediary’ castes are being mobilized in this ‘movement’. These youth are aggressive on social media as well. The woman journalist who did the interview with Ilavarasan has been subjected to aggressive, abusive assaults on Facebook.

To those who imagined that so-called ‘honour’ crimes take place only in and around Haryana, Tamil Nadu should be an eye opener. The faultlines of caste and patriarchy are deep, all across the country, and they are ready and waiting for any political force to exploit at will.

We also need a reminder that even within the Dalit castes, honour crimes occur. As a recent commentator noted, in 2010, a young man and woman from two SC sub-castes (Parayar and Arundhatiyar) in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, secretly married. But when the secret was out, the girl was found mysteriously dead in her parents’ house: likely to have been killed in the custody of her own home, for ‘honour.’

Box matter

Advocates’ Demonstration Demands CBI Enquiry Into Ilavarasan’s Death

Democratic Advocates Association (DAA) of Madras High Court held a demonstration before the Madras High Court on July 5th demanding arrest of those responsible for Dalit youth Ilavarasan’s suspicious death that TN police is claiming to be a suicide.

DAA also held Ramadoss, Anbumani Ramadoss and Kaduvetti Guru of PMK responsible for not only for attacks on dalit dwellings in Dharmapuri and Marakkanam but for the death of Ilavarasan death also and demanded their immediate arrest.

Speakers in the demonstration came down heavily on the state government which failed miserably in providing security for the dalit masses in the state and particularly for Ilavarasan whose life was in obvious danger.

More than 100 advocates of Madras High Court participated in the demonstration led by Com.Bharathi, Convenor, DAA. Senior Advocates SankaraSubbu and Tamilinian who spoke in the demonstration also held the proceedings of the court in the habeas corpus case responsible for Ilavarasan’s death.

The demonstration in its course turned into a road roko and the main road was blocked for a while. The speakers called for powerful mobilization of advocates against caste oppression in the state.

Demonstrations on these demands were also held in two centers in Pudukottai district. Com.Pala.Asaithambi, SCM of the Party led the demonstrators.

Liberation Archive