CUDDALORE: Two witnesses in the Puthukooraipettai honour killing case turned hostile, a day after the trial began before the Principal District Judge here on Monday. A total of eight witnesses were examined in the last three days in connection with the incident that happened in 2003.
The case relates to the alleged poisoning of inter-caste couple -- S Murugesan and D Kannagi -- and burning of their bodies at Puthukooraipettai near Vriddhachalam, even as about 300 people looked on. Murugesan (25), a Dalit hailing from Kuppanatham and a chemical engineer by profession, had fallen in love with D Kannagi, a Vanniyar who studied B Com through correspondence and lived in nearby Puthukooraipettai. Her father Duraisamy was the village panchayat president then.
Murugesan and Kannagi got married in May 2003 and eloped the next month. As per case details, Murugesan took Kannagi to his relative’s house at Moongilthuraipattu near Tiruvannamalai to keep her safe. He then went to another relative’s house at Vannankudikadu near Srimushnam. However, Kannagi’s elder brother Maruthupandi learned about the affair and reportedly made Murugesan’s uncle Ayyasami to bring him back to the village on July 7.
Murugesan was tied to a pole near a temple at Puthukooraipettai and beaten up by Maruthupandi and his supporters. Due to the unbearable torture meted out to him, Murugesan revealed the location of Kannagi.
Soon, a gang of 12, led by Maruthupandi, went to Moongilthuraipattu in a car to bring back Kannagi. He also took Ayyasami and his relative Gunasekaran along.
The gang brought Kannagai to Puthukooraipettai on July 8. Afterwards, the couple was forcibly given poison. Once they died, their bodies were burnt separately within the village as about 300 people looked on. The whole incident happened before dawn.
Meanwhile, a few relatives of Murugesan rushed to Vriddhachalam Police Station seeking help. But the police officials allegedly did not come to their rescue. After knowing about the incident a few days later, VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan demanded that a proper inquiry be conducted into the incident.
The Vriddhachalam Police then arrested eight persons -- four Dalits and four Vanniyars. Among the arrested were Duraisamy, Maruthupandi, Murugesan’s father Samikannu and Ayyasami.
According to police, Duraisamy, Maruthupandi and two others poisoned Kannagi as they were angry over her intercaste marriage. Similarly, Samikannu, Ayyasami, and two others poisoned Murugesan.
All the arrested eight persons came out on bail in 23 days. After that, with the help of advocate P Rathinam, Samikannu moved the High Court demanding a CBI probe into the incident. Subsequently, the case was transferred to the CBI in 2004. Following the probe, the CBI filed charge sheets against 15 people. Two police officials -- Tamil Maran (presently inspector) and Sellamuthu (retired DSP) -- and two Dalits - Ayyasami and Gunasekaran -- were among the accused.
Later, a PIL was filed in the High Court objecting the inclusion of Ayyasami and Gunasekaran as accused in the case. In 2014, the High Court referred the matter to the trial court in Cuddalore.
The trial began before Principal District Judge P Dhanapal on Monday and as per the High Court’s directive.
With two witnesses turning hostile on Tuesday, CBI Public Prosecutor Dominic Vijay filed a petition in the court alleging that the witnesses have been threatened. The persons who are closely observing the case said the petition filed by CBI’s lawyer could be seen as a step towards seeking cancellation of bail granted to the accused.