26-year-old Dinesh barged into her house and attacked her mother before beheading her. The girl’s mother had demanded capital punishment for Dinesh.
Salem: Oct 22 will forever be etched in the minds of the villagers in Thalavaipatti Therku Kaadu in Salem District, Tamil Nadu. How can a mother forget the sight of her teenage daughter being butchered by a 26-year-old man.
S. Rajalakshmi, the 13-year-old daughter of a daily wage earner Sinnaponnu, had refused to go to school and would cry at the mention of it. When her mother asked her what was troubling her, she revealed that a 26-year-old man, Karthi (also known as Dinesh Kumar) was harassing her. It would be the last day of her life as Dinesh, a harvester driver, crashed into her house and attacked her with a weapon.
Sinnaponnu was banged against the wall and lost consciousness. When she came to her senses, she saw that Dinesh had injured her daughter and was dragging her towards the road. He beheaded her with a sickle and flung it on the road.
Casteism has raised its ugly head again in this case. The incident is being seen as a caste and sex crime as Rajalakshmi was from the scheduled caste Parayar and Dinesh was from the dominant Mudaliar caste. He called Rajalakshmi ‘Parachi’, a casteist slur for women of the Parayar community, before attacking her.
A citizens protest against this brutal killing will take place on Wednesday in Chepauk, Chennai according to a message being circulated in social media.
The investigating officer, on Thursday had told The News Minute that although there were no marks of injury on the victim’s body, chances are high that POCSO Act is invoked in the case. “Provisions of POCSO act include sexual advances without necessarily establishing physical contact, using speech or gestures. The investigation now has taken that route,” he said.
Speaking to TNM, the 13-year-old’s mother said that Dinesh Kumar must be given capital punishment, the highest punishment that is available for having killed her daughter.
“The day of the incident was the first time Dinesh Kumar misbehaved with my daughter. He said, ‘Sleep with me and I’ll give you flowers and thread’. In fact, she told me about this when we were stringing flowers inside the house. That was when Dinesh stormed into the house with a sickle,” she said in the report.
She also demanded the arrest of Dinesh’s wife and his brother. “When Dinesh was coming to our house with a weapon, his wife could have raised her voice and warned us. We would have at least gotten out of the house and ran. But she didn’t. Neither did his brother, who was also there. In fact, after Dinesh killed my daughter and left with her head, his wife and brother were waiting outside the house. They told him to leave the head inside our house itself. This was a planned murder and hence the police must arrest those two,” she said in the report.
Dinesh’s wife Saradha had said in earlier reports that Dinesh was mentally challenged and sick and a bad business decision had affected his mental health. She also said that he did not like Rajalakshmi entering their house as she was from a lower caste.
“If he was really a psychopath as claimed by his wife, he could have attacked anybody. He passed by all his family members and came over to my house to kill my daughter. How can he be someone with mental illness?” the mother asked in the report, rubbishing Saradha’s claims.
“Kumar worked as a driver and machine operator in a rice mill in Salem town and visited his wife and child in the village every weekend. The girl’s family had alleged that Kumar had sexually harassed her each time he visited the village and that this had been going on for four years. The villagers had started talking about this, which had enraged Kumar. “He was angry that the family might have told the neighbours about his behaviour,” said A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a human rights organisation based in Madurai, to Scroll.
“Alleging a delay in the investigation and expressing distrust in the public prosecutor, the human rights organisation Evidence plans to find an independent lawyer to represent its case as permitted in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It has also sent petitions to the director general of police and the state chief secretary asking that the accused not be released on bail,” the report said.
TNM reported that Dinesh has been booked under sections 294 (Obscene acts and songs) and 302 (Murder) of the IPC and sections 3(1)(r) (Intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe in any place within the public view), 3(1)(s) (abuses any member of a Scheduled caste or a Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view) and 3(1)(va) (Commits any offence specified in the Schedule against a person or property knowing that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment act, 2015. According to sources, the FIR now includes relevant sections of POCSO Act.
Full text on the citizen's protest:
Violence of Silence
Speak up with the Marginalised
On 22 October 2018, a 13-year-old girl child named Rajalakshmi, who was studying in Class 8 was beheaded by Dinesh Kumar aged 27 in Thalavaipatti near Aathur, Salem District in Tamil Nadu. The #MeToo campaign is bringing a new awakening among urban women who are today boldly narrating their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse. This campaign has so far largely exposed the violations that women have faced in their work place or in public sphere. It is a progressive positive attempt in a society where women were always prohibited from speaking up against sexual violations in public.
The innocent little child Rajalakshmi, from a rural village, has also faced this violent and untimely death as she boldly retaliated against an attempt of molestation by her neighbour, Dinesh Kumar. Rajalakshmi attempted to expose the perverted, lustful intention of this man to her mother prior to her murder. This act of courage and the tenacity to expose his inappropriate and forceful advances bruised the ego of Dinesh Kumar, a caste Hindu man. His anger was further kindled by the fact that a young girl, that too a Dalit had exposed him.
The murderer brutally beheaded Rajalakshmi, in front of her mother, after forcefully entering their home. Rajalakshmi's mother plead to the murderer not to kill her daughter by falling at his feet. He had violently pushed the mother away and abused her using caste slurs and beheaded her child. Dinesh Kumar then carried Rajalakshmi's head in front of his own house, before throwing it on the streets where it was lying for more than 2 hours.
In a country where the Prime Minister and his entire establishment promote campaigns such as "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao", the rampant violence against women and girl children have to be vehemently questioned. When these kinds of cold blooded murder of a young Dalit girl happens within the confines her own home in front of her own parents, whose girl child are you talking about protecting and from whom?
The caste slur that Dinesh threw at Rajalakshmi and her mother before beheading the child establishes a casteist motivation to her brutality. These acts of caste arrogance often manifest in the dominant caste as criminal behaviour, they have established a pattern of violence due to willful negligence of the State in past atrocities against Dalits. If the State machineries would have proactively acted against the culprits who gang raped and murdered Ariyalur Nandhini, we could have saved young Rajalakshmi. The impunity with which caste Hindu perpetrate these atrocities against Dalits, especially Dalit women, is the primary reason for such continued caste violence in Tamil Nadu.
Many decades of populist Anti-Brahman assertion in Tamil Nadu have miserably failed to prevent atrocious crimes against Dalits. It is time that the Tamil society progresses towards Ambedkar's vision of annihilation of caste and not just limit themselves to removal of untouchability. Social Justice claims should not be limited only to entitlements such as reservation, but progress towards building a casteless society.
The voice of a Dalit woman has always been marginalised and subjugated by this Nation, whenever she makes even a small attempt to speak up. The Tamil society without remorse remains silent even when such brutal casteist criminals murder Dalits in open public spaces.
We want this large democratic civil society, liberals, progressive people, people's movements, feminists, gender experts, writers, politicians, and people in power to break their Silence on the Violence against Dalit Women and Girl Children.
Stand with us and add strength to the voices from the margins on 31 October 2018 (Wednesday) in Chennai.