STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

1997 Tamil Nadu Dalits murder: A long way for justice, a short way for release

Thirteen  persons serving life sentence for killing six Dalits way back in 1997, were released from prison for ‘good conduct’.

Published: 13th November 2019 04:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2019 11:36 AM   |  A+A-

VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan paying tribute at the Viduthalaikalam memorial in Melavalavu village near Melur in Madurai district

VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan paying tribute at the Viduthalaikalam memorial in Melavalavu village near Melur in Madurai district (File photo| Express)

Express News Service

MADURAI: Thirteen persons serving a life sentence for killing six Dalits way back in 1997, were released from prison for ‘good conduct’.

Those murdered included Melavalavu panchayat president Murugesan. The convicts were released from the Madurai Central Prison only a few days ago, in accordance with the MGR birth centenary celebrations. 

Dalit activists are up in arms against the government for amending regulations, which made their release possible.

“This release shows that anyone can get away after being involved caste massacre, provided they belong to a dominant caste,” says VCK spokesperson Vanni Arasu. 

The GO 687 allows the release of prisoners who have served more than 10 years, and with a record of good conduct.

“This GO clearly states that a person cannot be released if he is considered to be a threat to the society or locality,” points out Vanni Arasu. As a result, since 2008, no such persons were released on good conduct. 

“Now, however, the government has amended the GO to remove societal threat clause, which is condemnable,” alleges Arasu.

“Till date, there is caste tension in the area over the murders. The release of these convicts will only worsen the situation. The release is a challenge to the Constitution. How can the State release such persons, who have challenged the State itself,” asks Arasu. 

Kathir, the founder of Evidence NGO, demanded that the government must come out with a proper policy or law on premature releases.

“This release renders the long legal battles fought by affected families meaningless.” Speaking to Express, a relative of the slain panchayat leader claimed the family was still receiving threats.

Another family member of the deceased said they found out about the release from news reports. “We are very upset with the State’s decision. It shows all governments will only favour dominant castes. We are left behind, even for survival.” Melur MLA Periyapullan (a) Selvam, who spoke in the Assembly for the release of the convicts, refused to comment on the issue.   

What happened in 1997?

The incident happened on June 30, 1997. Murugesan, the president of Melavalavu Panchayat was travelling in a government bus with five others, including the panchayat vice president Mookan.

All of them were Dalits. The bus was blocked on the road, and the six of them were hacked to death in broad daylight. 

Melavalavu panchayat president​ Murugesan was beheaded

His head was flung into a well, half a kilometre away from the murder scene.

The murder, committed by caste Hindus who outnumber Dalits in the region, was allegedly to protest the conversion of the panchayat into a reserved segment. 

The murders happened four months after Murugesan was elected.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

edexworks
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp