A love marriage between a Dalit youth and a Vanniyar girl has caused fury amongst the dominant Vanniyar community in northern Tamil Nadu
Residents of the Dalit ‘colony’ in Anathur village near Ulundurpet woke up to violence and smashed homes in the wee hours of Wednesday, February 27.
One of their own, a young man named Thirumurthy, 22, a third year BSc student at the Cuddalore Government College of Arts, had tied the knot quietly with a fellow student named Jayaprada, 20, a girl born into the Vanniyar caste.
This love story had been continuing for nine years and culminated in a registered marriage on February 21, following which the couple did not go home. Neither had told their families about the marriage.
Vanniyars are a dominant MBC (Most Backward Classes) caste group found largely in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu.
When Jayaprada’s family found out about the marriage, all hell broke loose. The night of the 21st, her father lodged a complaint against Thirumurthy for kidnapping his daughter at the Thiruvennainallur police station.
About a week went by with the police not making much progress. Jayaprada’s family then decided to take matters into their own hands. Around 15 of them went to the Dalit colony February 27 and allegedly smashed homes, doors and windows down in anger.
At least 10 homes have been destroyed in the mob violence. Bikes, autorickshaws and mini trucks have also been destroyed.
Residents of the Dalit colony began to protest against the violence. Local police arrived to soothe the situation and hold peace talks.
On February 28, five persons — Madhusudhanan (31), Ilayaraja (26), Purushothaman (27), Devanathan (43) and Velu (34) — were arrested by the Ulundurpet police in connection with the violence in the Dalit colony.
Around 130 police personnel have been deployed in the area amidst simmering caste tensions.
“As per the order of the Mahila Court, we have sent the girl to live with her husband Thirumurthy,” said S Jeyakumar, Villupuram district Superintendent of Police.
In 2016, as per National Crime Record Bureau statistics, there were 1,291 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes filed in Tamil Nadu. This accounts for 3.2% of the all India figure of 40,801 cases. Of these 1,291 cases, 57 are murder cases and 78 are attempts to murder.