MADURAI: Dalit organisations have alleged that the death of a girl in Usilampatti on Thursday, suspected to be an honour killing, could have been avoided had police handled the case effectively when it first came to them in July.
A Kadir, executive director of the NGO, Evidence, said Usilampatti police, in the name of preserving law and order, did not give importance to the wishes of the couple, both majors, who wanted to live together. V Vimaladevi (20), daughter of caste Hindu P Veerannan of Poothipuram near Usilampatti, had eloped with B Dilip Kumar (22), a Dalit from Polipatti village in the third week of July. The girl’s family had filed a complaint with the Usilampatti town police and Veerannan had consumed poison after he learned that she had gone away with a Dalit youth.
Police traced the two, who were married by then, in Kerala and brought them back to Usilampatti on July 25. Kathir alleged that police, after bringing the couple back to the village, had allowed leaders from her caste to threaten the girl into giving up the relationship. He further charged that police had succumbed to pressure mounted by caste Hindu leaders fearing eruption of caste clashes.
“Before producing the girl in court, in violation of the process, she was taken by the police to her father who was recuperating in a hospital after the suicide attempt,” he claimed, adding that Veerannan had emotionally blackmailed her to come back home. Her parents immediately started looking for a groom and she was engaged to Satish in September. A week before her death, Vimaladevi had made another attempt to go with Dilip which ended in an altercation at Batlagundu, said Kathir. But even at that time police failed to act fairly.
“Despite Dilip explaining to police that she was married to him, they separated them and sent Vimaladevi with her parents,” Kadir said. Pointing out that the case was similar to that of Ilavarasan-Divya in Dharmapuri, he said, “Police should have followed the law and stood by the couple who wanted to live together.” Commenting on this, a senior police officer acknowledged the involvement of caste Hindu leaders and taking the girl to her father. He added that since the case had wider ramifications from the law and order perspective, police handled it sensitively. Further, the officer said that on Thursday Vimaladevi’s family had claimed that she committed suicide and her body was cremated without informing them. “We have arrested eight people, including her parents,” he added.