People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 28

July 14, 2013





Casteist Forces Guilty of Killing a Love


S P Rajendran


IN his one of the masterpieces, Othello, Shakespeare made Othello as saying, when he was try to execute his wife Desdemona on the basis of wrong calculations: “Put out the light, and then put out the light.”


Here in Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, casteism is the Othello. The wild fury and madness of caste Hindus put out the light of love between a young couple --- Ilavarasan, a dalit boy and Divya, a Vanniyar girl --- and then put out the light of the life of Ilavarasan.


Ilavarasan was found dead near a railway track in Dharmapuri on July 4, 2013 --- a day after his wife Divya said she would never go back to him and would stay with her mother.


The girl, who was not very long ago living with her husband, appeared before the Madras High Court in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by her mother, chose to go back with her mother and ruled out reunion with her husband.


Only a few days ago, Ilavarasan had told: “We led a happy life, and she was happier with me than with her own family. But we have become victims of a political conspiracy.” Divya herself had told the press earlier that she and her husband were under huge pressure but that she had decided to sacrifice “my love and my marriage.”


Ilavarasan married Divya on October 14 last year, after which her father committed suicide in November. Divya's mother too was opposed to this inter-caste marriage.


Using her marriage and her father's suicide as an excuse for their cause, caste Hindu forces led by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) unleashed brutal violence in three villages, viz Natham, Kondamapatty and Annanagar, on November 7 last year when about 296 huts belonging to dalit families were torched by caste Hindus. (See the detailed report in People’s Democracy, November 18, 2012.)


The violence drew nationwide attention, with several political parties including the CPI(M) condemning it. As many as 90 people were arrested a day after the incident and cases registered against another 500 ‘unidentified’ persons.


Several writ petitions were filed in the Madras High Court which ordered a probe into the rehabilitation measures by a committee headed by IAS officer Vaski. The latter submitted a 5,000-page report to the court recently.


In this background, casteist forces led by PMK tried to break the bond of love and marriage between Divya and Ilavarasan by using the ‘sentiment’ card with Divya’s mother --- so much so that, finally, Divya disowned her marriage under pressure of the casteist forces. On the next day, Ilavarsan was found dead.


On the other hand Ilavarasan’s father, T Elango, and his mother claimed that it could not be a suicide as his son had sought to console them after the recent developments, telling them not to worry. He had also told them that he was going to Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh for work. His relatives suspected foul play, wondering whether he was murdered and his body thrown on the track.


In a revelation that strengthens suspicion of foul play behind the death of Ilavarasan, railway officials said there was no record of anyone being run over by any train in Dharmapuri on that particular day and time.


In case the train had run over any person, the Kurla Express driver would have given a written message to the nearest station master – Hosur in this case – and the divisional headquarters in Bangalore. Enquiries with the Hosur station and railway officials in Bangalore revealed that there was no such intimation on record.


“After Kurla Express, two more trains passed that way. Had the drivers or guards noticed the body, they would have recorded it and reported it to the nearest station master..…” Praveen Pandey, senior divisional safety officer of Bangalore division, told.


Nor did the drivers of a passenger train and an inter-city express notice a body along the track. “Normally if he (the driver) hits (anyone), he informs, invariably informs..… in fact, he is supposed to inform anything unusual seen during the trip..… that is a standard rule. He has not given any statement..…,” Pandey said, adding that the driver and the guard of Kurla Express would be asked about the matter. Asked about the possibility of the train driver not noticing a person committing suicide, a railway official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such a situation could arise if the incident took place in darkness or when there is a steep curve or there were inclement weather conditions. In the Dharmapuri case, Kurla Express passed the location where the body was found around 12.50 p m.


The autopsy of Ilavarasan’s body was conducted in this very situation. The autopsy concluded that Ilavarasan had died of head injury and recorded external injuries, including abrasions on his forearms, lacerations and a deep cavity in the head. Brain matter at the scene was recovered, it indicates.


However, the CPI(M), the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), Vidudali Chiruthaikal Katchi and other dalit organisations have demanded a re-autopsy as well as a CBI enquiry into the entire issue beginning from the marriage of Divya and Ilavarasan. The CPI(M), TNUEF and other organisations organised protest actions condemning the casteist forces who had been hunting the couple. CPI(M) Central Committee members U Vasuki and P Sampath, TNUEF general secretary K Samuel Raj, AIDWA state president N Amirtham district leaders visited Ilavarsan’s family and consoled the relatives.


Meanwhile, a team led by M Shivanna, member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), visited Dharmapuri. In their petitions to the NCSC team, the CPI(M) and the TNUEF said there should be an unbiased, impartial and fair investigation to unearth the conspiracy and bring the culprits to book. The circumstances leading to Ilavarsan’s death should be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation; action should be taken against leaders of the Pattali Makkal Katchi; and Divya should be freed from the clutches of PMK and Vanniyar Sangam leaders, they said.


In these circumstances, the Tamilnadu government has ordered a commission to "probe the truth" behind the death of the dalit youth. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa, expressing shock and grief over the death of Ilavarasan, said she had ordered a commission under former High Court judge, Justice S R Singaravelu, to probe the matter. "Social activists, political parties and individuals have been expressing various views (on the death). Ilavarasan's father has also expressed doubts over his son's death. Therefore, to probe the truth behind Ilavarasan's death, I have ordered an inquiry commission under Justice S R Singaravelu," she said in a statement.