In a case of 'honour killing' in Tamil Nadu, a boy from a Most Backward Caste group is hacked to death by relatives of the girl he loved

Published : January 08, 2021 18:18 IST

Members of the NGO Evidence meeting the parents of the murdered youth, Hariharan, at their house in Karur. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In a gruesome incident, a 23–year-old engineering graduate from a Most Backward Caste (MBC) group was hacked in broad daylight in front of a temple in the heart of Karur town in Tamil Nadu by a gang that included the father and a few relatives of the girl he loved, on January 6. The youth was rushed to Karur Government Medical College Hospital with multiple injuries but he died in the evening.

The youth, J. Hariharan, belonged to the Maruthuvar caste and was running a hair-dressing salon on Mettu Street, Kamarajarpuram, in Karur town. He and the girl, Meena, from the backward Chettiyar caste, had been in love for the past three years, which the girl’s family resented because the youth belonged to a lower caste group. Just before the murder, the girl had stopped talking to Hariharan, though he would try to speak to her over phone.

On January 6, the girl returned Hariharan’s call and asked him to come to a place near the Sri Kalyana Pasupatheeshwarar Temple to “sort out the issue”. Hariharan, accompanied by his father, Sivalingam Jayaram, and two friends, went to the temple and waited for the girl. Instead of the girl, her father, Velan, relatives and others, heavily armed, descended on the spot and attacked Hariharan. They beat his father and threatened his friends. Hariharan suffered serious injuries and was rushed to the Karur Medical College Hospital, where he died later.

The Karur Town Police registered a case under Sections 147, 141, 142, 341, 342, 294(b), 323, 307, 302, 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code and arrested Shankar, Karthikeyan and Vellaisamy, all of whom are the girl’s uncles. Later, Velan and another relative, Muthu, were arrested. Hariharan’s relatives refused to accept his body and demanded the arrest of all those who were involved in the murder. The police held talks with the agitators and pacified them to accept the body.

According to Kadir of Evidence, the Madurai-based rights organisation, the murder was planned well in advance and executed brutally. His head was first smashed against the nearby cemented parapet wall before he was hacked, he said. “The fact-finding report of Evidence reveals that it was a 12-member gang that killed Hariharan. The Town police station is about 200 metres from the site of the murder. It is a busy place,” said Kadir. But the police station’s First Information Report claimed that the crime was reported to it at 4 p.m. and that the site was given as 0.5 km west of the police station.

Speaking to Frontline, Kadir said both the boy and the girl knew each other from their college days. The girl’s parents had gone to Hariharan’s house on South Street in Karur and threatened his parents against the marriage because they belonged to a “low” caste. Said Kadir: “In fact, his parents told us that they had warned their son not to pursue this affair. They also told us that the girl called them and insisted that she would marry their son only. They said they advised her not to bother their son.”

Kadir urged the State and Central governments “to pass a separate legislation to stop such honour killings in the State.” He said the murderers should not be enlarged on bail until the case was over. The State government must give a sum of Rs.25 lakh as compensation to the victim’s family, he added.

Kadir pointed out that during the last 11 months of lockdown on account of the coronavirus nine such deaths had occurred across the State. He said one such killing had taken place at Thennampatti village near Vadamadurai in Dindigul district recently. Jayashree (21), daughter of Kadirvel belonging to the Dalit Parayar caste, had fallen in love with Thangadurai (26), son of Vadivel from the Vellala Gounder caste. When the girl asked him to marry her, he and his friend abused her in terms of her caste and allegedly murdered her. The Kallimanthayam police registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC and 302 of the IPC read with 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,2015, and arrested both of them.