Left youth leader in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu killed by casteist fanatics

An activist of the left-wing Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) was murdered by casteist fanatics on Wednesday night in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. 23 year-old Ashok, the Tirunelveli district treasurer of the DYFI, was returning from work when he was hacked to death at Karaiyiruppu village near Thachanallur.

The family members of Ashok, who belonged to a Dalit community, along with DYFI activists and several fellow villagers, blocked the Tirunelveli-Madurai highway in protest, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.

Ashok used to work in a tyre-manufacturing unit at an industrial estate run by the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) in Gangaikondan. The murderers attacked him as he was walking home around 10.45 pm. They hacked him to death and threw his body in the bushes near the railway track.

People belonging to the Dalit community in the region have to pass through a settlement belonging to the dominant maravar caste to reach the fields where they work. According to reports, some people from the maravar community had been abusing Dalit workers and women – most of whom are agricultural workers – as they passed through this route. Some youth, including Ashok, asked the harassers to stop their casteist abuse.

Subsequently there was an attack on Ashok and his mother last month as they were returning home from the fields, allegedly by a few persons belonging to the group of harassers. Ashok tried to file a case under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, but the Thachanallur police only filed a case under other sections.

DYFI activists say that the murder of Ashok is in response to the role that he played in the resistance against the abuse of Dalit workers and women by reactionary elements of the dominant community, as he mobilised youth to fight caste oppression and discrimination in his village.

“Comrade Ashok was in the forefront of the fight against the casteist forces with conviction,” said a statement by the DYFI’s Central Executive Committee. The murder of Ashok is revenge by the casteist forces, for his fight for equality, the statement said. “There has been criminal negligence on the part of the police.”

The DYFI has demanded immediate arrest of the accused, time-bound investigation and justice in the case, along with strict action against the police officers who did not act on Ashok’s complaint. The organisation has also demanded that the SC/ST Atrocities Act should be included while filing the case.

The DYFI has called for a nation-wide protest on 15 June.



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