Tragic love stories are aplenty in a society that is sharply divided on communal and economic lines.
Suicides triggered by failed love affairs are not uncommon. In fact, last year 3,849 people had ended their lives in the country after their romantic lives had turned sour.
These figures do not include the numerous suicides of youth that are routinely closed as “stomach ache” cases by the police.
However, not all failed love scripts evoke an instant sense of outrage and sympathy among complete strangers or hit the headlines. Such cases are rare as the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rahman in West Bengal in 2007.
The death of Ilavarasan, a Dalit youth hailing from the backward Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu, whose seven-month-old love marriage with Divya — belonging to the dominant Vanniyar community — cracked recently, falls under the same category as that of Rizwanur’s.
The only difference is that while an economic divide between families killed Rizwanur, Ilavarasan lost his battle to conquer a deeply entrenched caste rift.
Far from encountering the common parental opposition to their romance, Ilavarasan and Divya had to carry the enormous emotional burden of an entire community turning against their union on their tender shoulders.
The suicide of Divya’s father, who was unable to withstand the “humiliation” heaped by those around him, and the resultant violence that razed over 250 homes, made the young couple’s lives miserable beyond redemption. In fact, it left them intimidated and snatched Ilavarasan’s livelihood.
If their lives were a popular cinema script, the couple would have weathered the storm and forced the warring community members to accept their wedding, irrespective of the contention that Ilavarasan had not attained the age of legal majority to tie the knot. Unfortunately, they were trapped in a fiery communal script inspired and induced by petty minds with an eye on personal gains.
Ilavarasan’s death on Thursday, observers say, is not just an ugly fallout of casteism. In fact, much more than that it is a failure of a society which happily laps up silver screen stories of a loafer falling in love with a landlord’s daughter but mutely watches tragic episodes played out in real life.
Next year, Ilavarasan’s death will be added to the National Crime Records Bureau’s statistics on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India Report 2013. He will just be a nameless number on record. In reality, though, the scars of his death will take a long time to heal, not just for Divya but for civil society. He will be Tamil Nadu’s Rizwanur.
For the moment though, caste has bloomed over his death. Love has withered.