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Ilavarasan: At a deadly new junction of caste and electoral politics: Rajan Kurai Krishnan

ilavarasan_divya-350_070513040519This is a guest post by RAJAN KURAI KRISHNAN

The gruesome death/alleged murder of Ilavarasan, a Dalit youth, at the outskirts of Dharmapurai on the afternoon of 4th July has come as a shock to all those who have heard of his case. Murders, ironically called honour killings, and socially abetted suicides as outcomes of inter-caste marriages are of course as common as catching cold in most parts of India. However, what has made Ilavarasan’s case something that could penetrate the armour of the middle class everyday plated with trained nonchalance to extract a possible expletive under their breath is the fact that his case has been in the limelight for more than eight months now.

It was a few weeks after his marriage with Divya, a girl belonging to the caste of Vanniars, a Most Backward Caste in the official description of Tamil Nadu Government,  in October 2012, Divya’s father was found dead allegedly having committed suicide due to the “dishonour” caused by his daughter’s marriage. Making the suicide an excuse, the Vanniyars organized riots in which three Dalit hamlets, about 250 houses, were destroyed. The scale of violent destruction caught the national attention and so did the love story behind the riots. The young couple earned a media profile while trying to live in peace beyond the reach of the raging Vanniyar caste men. It was fated that was not to be. The Vanniar caste leaders used Divya’s mother to temporarily separate Divya from Ilavarasan by using the well known tactics of emotional blackmail. They then broke the communication link between Ilavarasan and Divya. When Ilavarasan saw Divya in the court on the first of July, Divya told the court that she would live with Ilavarasan after convincing her mother. Divya’s lawyer, however, managed to make her tell the press that she is separated from Ilavarasan forever. Ilavarasan, on the other hand, told India Today, that he was highly hopeful of re-uniting with Divya. After two days, he was found dead near a railway track in broad daylight. Given this history, the news had some potential to shock people. Continue reading Ilavarasan: At a deadly new junction of caste and electoral politics: Rajan Kurai Krishnan