C. Veluchamy, a Dalit agricultural worker from Tirupur district, Tamil Nadu, has reason to believe that his gods have stopped smiling. It has been more than four years since Shankar, his 22-year-old son, was killed in a busy market in Udumalpet for marrying Kausalya, a woman from the region’s dominant Thevar caste.
Veluchamy, who is now in his fifties, got a little relief in December 2017 when a trial court in Tirupur found Kausalya’s father B. Chinnaswamy guilty of ordering the murder, sentencing him to death along with five hired assassins. But this turned out to be short-lived—while Chinnaswamy’s well-off family filed an appeal, caste Hindu outfits operating in Western Tamil Nadu carried out smear campaigns against Shankar as well as Kausalya, who has since remarried but lives in constant fear of more attacks.
The biggest blow came in June, when the Madurai bench of Madras High Court acquitted Chinnaswamy of all charges. The death sentences of the hired killers were also commuted to life imprisonment. When Chinnaswamy was released from Coimbatore Central Prison, he was greeted with shawls and flowers by activists from some caste outfits.
“After the verdict, Kausalya contacted me over the phone and wept for a long time. She also said she would initiate the process of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court very soon. The Madras High Court verdict has devastated me and my two younger sons, along with Kausalya, whom I still treat as my daughter-in-law. We are sad and depressed and can’t understand how the court has reached such a conclusion that there was no conspiracy behind the daylight murder carried out by the hired assassins in a busy urban area,’’ said Veluchamy, who currently works as cook in a pre-matric hostel in Tamil Nadu’s Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department at Thirumoorthy Hills, which is located 23 km from his...