The love story of two teenagers in Thiruvennainallur town of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu has resulted in inter-caste violence with the boy's family coming under attack on Sunday.
V Bharathi, 35, sister-in-law of the boy and her children aged 14 and 12, were attacked by a mob of 15 persons on Sunday. Bharathi has suffered multiple injuries and is presently admitted at Mundiyampakkam Government Hospital.
Representational image. IBN Live
Akash*, an undergraduate student, and Asha*, working at a supermarket in Chennai, have been in love for four years. Akash’s friends say that things turned sour when Asha’s parents found out about their relationship. They told her to stop talking to the boy as he was from a lower caste and sent her to Chennai to work.
Both of them would meet when Asha would visit Villupuram. Akash would also travel to Chennai to meet her. A friend of the couple said that Akash borrowed some clothes from him and left to see her a few days back. They haven’t heard from him since then.
Akash belongs to the Arunthathiyar community whereas Asha belongs to the Paraiyar community. While both are Scheduled Castes, Arunthathiyars are considered to be a lower caste by the Paraiyars.
Bharathi found out that Akash was missing only when 20 people showed up at her doorstep on 28 July. They barged into her house and demanded Akash’s number. They threatened to beat her up if Asha wasn’t brought back by the next day.
In spite of her repeated pleas that she had no idea about who Asha was or her relationship with Akash, they threw casteist slurs and slapped her repeatedly. Bharathi went to the local police station to complain about the attack. She was told to sit outside the police station and later told to leave. The police assured that they will visit her house to enquire. An hour later, police officials showed up at Bharathi’s house and enquired about Asha. Bharathi repeated that she knew nothing of the girl's whereabouts and that her husband was away. When she asked for police protection, the officials left telling her that if Asha was returned to her house, none of these problems would have existed.
The next day, a mob comprising of both men and women including Asha's family members barged into Bharathi’s house and attacked her again. "The women asked me how a 'Chakkiliyar' woman like me had the guts to go to a police station and complain against them. They started tearing my nightdress after which I ran into another room. I was followed and beaten up. While I was being beaten up, my son was recording all this on my phone. They snatched the phone and beat him up. My younger daughter was also beaten up. They threatened me and my daughter with more violence and rape if Asha didn’t return home in a day," says Bharati.
Bharati's husband E Venkatesh was away when this happened. He works as a driver in Chennai. He says that minor disputes keep occurring between Paraiyars and Arunthathiyars. "We (Arunthathiyars) are just 13 families whereas there are more than 400 Paraiyar families here. The Police, instead of registering a complaint about the attacks on my wife, is threatening us," says Venkatesh.
He insisted that he is not aware about the whereabouts of his brother or the girl. "If we knew, we would’ve taken her back to her parents. Let the Police take action against my brother if he is guilty of anything wrong. But now, my wife and children are being subject to attacks and casteist slurs, and nothing is being done. We are scared to even return to to our house," he added.
Jogindhar, SHO, Tiruvennainallur Police station, informed Firstpost that a complaint has been filed by Asha’s parents stating that she is missing. In the complaint, Asha’s father Ravi has mentioned that Asha is a minor, aged 17, and accordingly, a case of kidnapping has been filed.
On being asked why he hasn’t initiated any enquiry regarding the attacks on Bharathi, he said that he was told both the communities broke into a fight and he is yet to enquire regarding the incident.
(*Names changed to protect the identity of the teenage couple)