More than 3,000 people including relatives, friends, villagers and political activists bid adieu to Dalit youth Ilavarasan on Sunday evening with chants hailing him as a “martyr” who fell victim to vicious upper caste hegemony.
His Vanniyar wife Divya — seemingly under pressure — did not attend his funeral although in a ‘suicide note’ purportedly written by Ilavarasan he had emotionally expressed a desire that she sould come to see him in death. On Saturday, Ilavarasan’s father Elangovan too had appealed to Divya to attend the funeral.
A heavy posse of police personnel marched along the funeral route even as some relatives and well-wishers of Ilavarsan hailing from neighbouring districts and a group of lawyers who had defended his case were denied entry into the Dharmapuri citing prohibitory orders.
On July 4, Ilavarasan was found dead near a railway track in Dharmapuri. His death came a day after Divya, under tremendous pressure from her community members, had declared that she would not go back to Ilavarasan. Divya had earlier left her matrimonial home after her mother claimed to be unwell.
Around 3.30 on Sunday evening, Ilavarasan’s mortal remains was taken in a procession from his house in Natham Colony and buried at a spot around 250 metres away. The procession lasted 30 minutes. Cries of ‘Veera Vanakkam’ (Brave Salute) and “Arrest Ramadoss (PMK leader)” rent the air along the funeral procession route.
A private memorial is likely to come up at the site where he was buried. Family members had purchased a 30 cents plot at the entrance point of Natham Colony to bury his body. Dalit activists see Ilavarasan as someone whose life was cut short by narrow caste Hindu forces.
Though VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan had to stay away from the funeral as the district administration denied him entry into Dharmapuri, his party colleague Sinthanai Chelvan was present at the burial site.
CPM MLAs P Dilli Babu (Harur) and Balabarathi (Dindigul) and representatives of the BSP and Makkal Kalai Ilakkiya Kazhagam were among those who attended the funeral.
Ilavarasan’s parents Elangovan and Krishnaveni and brother Balaji bid a tearful adieu to him.