Three Dalit men belonging to the Devendra Kulla Vellalar community were hacked to death by a group of 30 men in a brutal incident of caste-based violence in 2018. Final court proceedings held on August 5 found the men guilty of the crime and charged 27 among them with a life sentence.
Backdrop Of The Case
Prabhakar, son of one of the three murdered men, is a soldier from the Devendra Kulla Vellalar (a Dalit community) who had returned to his village in the Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu to attend a wedding on May 26, 2018.
The district is infamous for its caste inequality and rising cases of caste violence. Many reports have also found that the economic and professional growth of the Dalit community in the region has been a hard pill for the dominant upper caste community to swallow.
Prabhakar's return to such a casteist space fuelled this further, and two men from the Agamudayar community (a dominant part of the Thevar community cluster) picked a fight claiming that Prabhakar disrespected them by talking on his phone loudly outside their home. This was ensued by physical assaults, casteist abuses, and death threats.
Following the incident, Prabhakar lodged a police complaint on May 26, but the police allegedly took no action regarding the complaint. On May 28, a group of over 30 men from the Agamudayar community attacked eight Dalit men who were resting in their homes.
Hacked with knives and sickles, five of the victims survived with serious injuries and three of them lost their lives. Among the men who were attacked was the father of Prabhakar, who had succumbed to his injuries. As reported by the News Minute, the survivors had received over 40 to 50 cuts.
Court's Take On The Issue
The original charge sheet had listed 33 Agamudayars, including four juveniles. One of them passed away during the trial proceedings, and 27 among them have been convicted under the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act. On August 5, 2022, the 27 convicted were sentenced to life in prison.
The 27 accused had earlier approached the Madras High Court for bail but were rejected by the bench on the grounds of having committed a heinous crime. The Madurai Bench also observed that the triple murders of Arumugam (68), Shanmuganathan (31) and Chandrasekaran (34) remains a grim reminder of the caste inequality that lurks in the State.
Also Read: Why Is Caste Still A Divisive Issue In The 21st Century?