Family of Slain SC Youth in Tirunelveli Alleges Honour Killing, Disputes Police’s Version
Political parties protested in Tirunelveli, demanding justice for Muthiah, who was allegedly murdered on July 23.
A 19-year-old youth belonging to the Arunthathiyar community, falling under the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, was reportedly hacked to death on July 23. The incident took place in a village in Thisayanvilai town panchayat in Tirunelveli district. Even as the family of the youth alleges that the murder was an ‘honour killing’ executed by the family of the girl he was in love with – belonging to a dominant caste – the police have refuted the allegations.
The family of the deceased, K Muthiah, has decided not to receive his body until justice is ensured for the brutal murder. The police have arrested three people from a neighbouring hamlet belonging to the SC community and have issued a statement claiming that the three youths “killed” Muthiah for allegedly teasing the sister of one of the youths.
The family of Muthiah, however, has claimed that the arrested youths have no enmity with them. The family members of the two arrested youths met the press along with Kanniappan, the father of Muthiah, and refuted the charges made by the police.
The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], and 14 other organizations held a protest on July 26 against the alleged honour killing and the police's inaction.
Kanniappan claimed that his son was in love with a girl from the same village of Nadar caste, which was opposed by the members of the girl's family led by her sister's husband. On July 23, at 8 pm, Muthiah was reportedly murdered in Appuvilai hamlet in Thisayanvilai.
Muthiah’s family members told NewsClick that initially, the police had filed a case claiming that the scuffle took place due to drug usage between Muthiah and a few youths from Kakkan Nagar, a neighbouring hamlet leading to the murder.
“The police have arrested three persons in connection with the murder, who are in no way connected to the incident. The police have claimed that my son had teased Suresh’s sister. This is totally false,” said Kanniappan speaking to NewsClick.
The family has also accused the police of exerting pressure on them to receive the body of Muthiah. In addition, they alleged that the president of the Thiyanvilai town panchayat, a leader of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) offered Rs 3 lakhs to settle the case.
“We will not receive the body of our son until the police file the case against those who actually killed him. Since we belong to the Arunthathiyar community, the police and the administration are not supporting us,” Kanniappan claimed.
The family and a few political outfits have accused the police of attempting to dilute the crime by arresting a youth who also belongs to the SC community, in an “attempt to rule out the possibility of an honour killing”. The family said it is in possession of photos of Muthiah and the girl together "to establish that they were indeed in love".
The CPI(M), TNUEF, CPI(ML), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and several other dalit organisations have urged the district administration to bring out the truth behind the brutal murder.
‘ENACT LAW TO PREVENT HONOUR KILLING’
The brutal murder has once again led to the demand for special legislation for preventing and punishing honour killings happening in the name of ‘caste pride’. The cases are now being filed under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the absence of a special provision.
“The TNUEF, CPI(M) and several dalit rights organisations have been demanding the enactment of a special law to prevent such heinous crime, but to no avail. It is high time for the state government to swing into action,” said K Sriram, CPI(M) Tirunelveli district secretary.
Earlier, on July 25, the leaders of TNUEF and the family members of Muthiah were detained when they approached the police with a memorandum asking them to file a case of honour killing.
“The actions of the police have been highly disappointing. We have to ensure justice for the socially oppressed communities. On most occasions, their voices are unheard,” Sriram added.
The CPI(M) and TNUEF have called for a meeting of like minded political parties and organisations to chart out a plan of action on July 27.
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