My husband, a Vanniyar, was victim of honour killing, says his Dalit wife; police arrest his father and brother on abetment of suicide charge

Published : October 08, 2021 15:47 IST

Gouthaman and Amul. Photo: By Special Arrangement

A. Gouthaman (29), a youth belonging to the Vanniyar community in the list of Most Backward Classes (MBC) and married to a Dalit girl, died recently in suspicious circumstances at Karani village near Gummidipoondi in Tiruvallur district.

Based on a complaint filed by his wife S. Amul, who suspected foul play, the Arni police initially registered a case under Section 174 (Police to enquire and report on suicide, etc.) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

After a preliminary investigation, the police changed the case to Section 306 of the IPC (Abetment of suicide) and arrested Annamalai (65), the youth’s father, and Seenivasan (33), his brother. Both were remanded to judicial custody.

Gouthaman was working in a mobile repair shop in Chennai. During his daily commute by suburban train, he met Amul, 29, an Adi Dravidar girl who had converted to Christianity and was working as a nurse in a private hospital in Chennai. Both fell in love. Gouthaman’s parents and relatives were vehemently opposed to his choice of partner. His father was a former village panchayat president and owned vast tracts of lands.

Gouthaman married Amul on September 23, 2019, in a Church in Adyar, Chennai. The marriage was also registered. The newly weds moved to a rented house in Chennai. Gouthaman’s parents and relatives wanted him to abandon his wife, which he refused to do. Infuriated, his parents told him that they would not give him any share in their property. After that, Gouthaman stopped going to the village.

The couple moved to Avur village near Ponneri in January 2021 and Amul gave birth to a girl child in August. In the early hours of September 17, Gouthaman got a phone call from his village informing him that his grandfather had passed away. Gouthaman told Amul that he would attend the last rites of his grandfather and return that night. He went to his village in his two-wheeler. But he did not return even after two days and his mobile phone remained switched off.

An anxious Amul sent her brother Pravin to find out the whereabouts of her husband on September 20. She said that when her brother alighted from the bus at the village bus stop, he was shocked to see posters announcing Gouthaman’s death and stating that he had died of “natural causes”.

Amul preferred a police complaint on September 21. She alleged that her husband’s family had been averse to their marriage from the beginning because she was a Dalit. She told the police she wasn’t informed about her husband’s death. This, she claimed, made her suspicious about the nature of her husband’s death and suspected it to be a case of honour killing.

Amul told Frontline that Gouthaman had taken very good care of her. “He was a very caring husband. Despite his family’s hostility, he never got angry with me. When the child was born, he was elated and also called his parents and informed them. They did not like that,” she said. She was anguished that she was not even informed about her husband’s death. She and her baby now live with her sister.

Ramani of the Caste Annihilation Front (CAF) told Frontline that it was a case of honour killing since the woman was a Dalit. “Here, a Dalit woman is a double victim. She is now left with her two- month-old baby girl. Her future looks bleak. Amul must be compensated accordingly. Deaths that happen within a period of seven years of marriage, irrespective of caste and religion, and dowry deaths should be probed,” she said..

The CAF, however, asked the police to register the case under Section 302 of the IPC (Punishment for murder). The front, she said, had met leaders of political parties and other policymakers in Tamil Nadu to get the Assembly to pass a special legislation on honour killings. She said the response was encouraging, but wanted the State to take up the issue on a war footing. “We request Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to enact a special law on honour killings in the State,” she said.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor