TAMIL NADU: Muthiah, a Dalit teen, was murdered on Sunday, July 23, in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu in a case of suspected ‘honour’ killing. The 19-year-old, who belonged to the Arunthathiyar community, categorised as a Scheduled Caste community in Tamil Nadu, was a resident of Appuvilai village. While Muthiah’s relatives have alleged that he was killed by members of an upper caste community and that the police are trying to divert the case, investigators have said he was killed following an altercation by men from his own community, who were inebriated.
Muthiah was working in a private company in Tirunelveli where he met Nisha (name change), a 19-year-old girl from the Nadar community. Both of them were in love and Muthiah’s family members were aware of their relationship according to the FIR. A few weeks later, a close relative of Nisha, who came to know about their relationship tried to attack Muthiah and warned him to not meet her again, the complaint said.
However, on July 23, hours before he was killed, Muthiah brought Nisha to his house where they had lunch together and he dropped her off at the Thisayanvilai bus stand around 2.45 pm, the First Information Report noted.
Later. he went out with his friends to the nearest exhibition ground. When he failed to return home his father Kanniyappan and brother Maharajan went looking for him at a ground where an exhibition was happening, but he was not seen. “While we were on the way back home, we noticed six men on two bikes returning from the under passage of a bridge where Muthiah used to hangout with friends. My son Maharajan then rushed to the spot, where he found my son’s dead body,” Kanniyappan said in the FIR and alleged that his son was killed by Nisha’s family members. Police recovered his body and sent it to Tirunelveli Government Hospital for post-mortem examination.
Talking to TNM, Kanniyappan said that he went to Thisayanvilai police station, along with his son Maharajan, to lodge a complaint against Nisha’s family members but they were made to wait at the station till the next morning, July 24. “The police inspector of Thisayanvilai station and Murugan, husband of panchayat leader of the village tried to settle the issue and told me to accept Rs 3 lakh to remain silent about it,” Kanniyappan said.
Despite complaints against Nisha’s family members, the police are on the lookout for Muthiah’s friends whom they consider as suspects. No one investigated Nisha’s family members, alleged Kanniyappan .
The Thisayanvilai police booked a case against unknown persons under sections 302 (Punishment for murder) of IPC and 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Community Preventions of Atrocity Act (SC/ST POA Act), which deals with cases in which perpetrators are not members of the SC/ST community and commits an offence under IPC punishable with imprisonment for a term of 10 years or more.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) members, who came to know about this issue met Muthiah’s family members at Tirunelveli Hospital and brought Kanniyappan and Maharajan to the SP office to give a complaint and insisted that the police investigate the caste angle.
However, Tirunelveli SP N Silambarasan denied the claims that caste was a reason behind the murder and said the investigation is going on. Talking to TNM, he said Muthiah was murdered during an altercation with three other men who also belonged to the Arunthathiyar community. According to him, two accused linked to the murder have been arrested while one person was still on the run.
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