TN: Dalit youth dies by suicide after ‘upper caste’ men violently attacked him

The assault is alleged to have occurred after the 19-year-old came to the doorstep of a man of an upper caste to ask for help for an elderly member of that community.

Dalit youth dies by suicide after ‘upper caste’ men violently attacked him
Image: The News Minute

The year is about to come to an end but it is caste atrocities that continue to fester in the country. Another incident from the state of Tamil Nadu has come to light of a caste-based crime. This time a 19-year-old Dalit Christian boy died by suicide allegedly scared by the threats to him and his family from Vanniyar caste men. The family had refused to accept Raja’s body and were protesting outside Mundiyampakkam government hospital demanding the arrest of the accused men as well as compensation for the family.

The incident took place in Surapattu, Villupuram on Puducherry-Sengam Road where the deceased boy, Raja Marianathan was assaulted by these men and also foisted a false case against him of bike theft. The Vanniyar and Pariah community live on either side of the road.

Raja, who belonged to the Pariah community, died by suicide on December 23. As per the resident, on December 21 as Raja and his friends were out for dinner, Raja tried to help an elderly man from Vanniyar caste to fetch some water in front of a house. However, as per Raja’s father, when the man’s son-in-law, Moorthy, opened the door and saw Raja at his doorstep, he got furious and asked how a Pariah man dared to come to his house and knock on the door. Then, Moorthy and his two friends, Mohan and Suresh, under the influence of alcohol allegedly assaulted Raja. Raja was rescued by his friend, Sebastian and Vinoth who took him to the hospital where he had to get stitches on face and torso, reported The News Minute. Moorthy and others lodged a false case of bike theft on Raja to counter his complaint of assault by them. Another version said that Raja was beaten up for entering the street where dominant caste families live, reported The New Indian Express.

“When Marianathan visited the police station with Raja on December 22 to explain that he and his friends were not involved in bike theft, police asked the father-son duo to enter into a ‘compromise’ with Vanniyars. However, they refused to do so and didn’t want to withdraw the case against Vanniyar men,” Kathir, a Dalit activist, told TNM. He also said that when the police questioned Raja’s friends about the bike theft case, they assaulted them as well. When members of Vanniyar caste tried to reach a compromise with Raja’s family and the latter refused, they were allegedly threatened by the Vanniyar men. The Vanniyar men told him that their community had 1,000 families in Surappattu while the Dalit colony had only 40 houses and threatened to set fire to the colony,” reads the FIR.

An FIR has been filed against the Vanniyar men under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapons), 341 (wrongful restraint), 294 (b) (singing or uttering obscene words or songs), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the IPC and we as sections 3(1)(r), which deals with intentional insult or intimidation with intent to humiliate and 3(1)(s), relating to abuse using caste name)  of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. However, the police seem to have aspersions about adding the sections of SC/ST Act since Dalit Christians are categorized as Backward classes in the state and not as Scheduled Castes. The reservations benefits are only accorded to Dalit Hindus and not converted Dalit Christians and Muslims. This seems to be the root cause of the confusion. In this case, Raja’s mother is a Hindu while his father is a Christian.

Activists in the area are, however, of the opinion that the accused men hurled casteist slurs at Raja hence, the SC/ST Act needs to be invoked.


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