A 22-year-old woman from Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu killed herself on Monday after a young man from her village morphed pictures of her and circulated them. The images were retrieved from the victim Radhika's Facebook account and allegedly edited by accused Premkumar to make it look obscene. Hours after the woman's death, a relative who she was supposed to marry, 22-year-old Vignesh, also killed himself.
While Premkumar, a Dalit youth, surrendered to the police, two other men have also been arrested in connection to the crime.
According to the police, the deaths led to massive protests in Kurvan Kuppam with the families of Radhika and Vignesh, who belong to an MBC community refusing to take their bodies after the postmortem was completed. An investigating officer told TNM that caste tensions arose following the deaths and had to be quelled by the police.
"We don't know what the motive behind this crime is yet. Only the enquiry can determine that. But as of now we are trying to ensure that the caste tensions are dealt with. All our energy is focused on that," says the officer.
Radhika was pursuing her Bachelors in Computer Application in Cuddalore and Vignesh worked as a delivery executive for an online retail store. Reports suggest that Premkumar circulated the images over his enmity with Vignesh. According to News18 Tamil, over a month back, Vignesh had given a statement to the police that Premkumar had abducted a minor girl with the intention to marry her. This reportedly led to Premkumar's imprisonment and he was only recently let off on bail.
Following the circulation of the image, the families of Radhika and Premkumar reportedly came to an agreement and the morphed photos were deleted. Despite this however, Radhika killed herself. Relatives of the victims also allege that Vignesh was murdered by Premkumar and his associates when he went to question their activities.
"We haven't started looking into the murder accusation," says an investigation officer. "As of now we have filed an FIR for morphing of images as given in the complaint," the official adds.
Premkumar has been booked for abetment of suicide and under the Information Technology act for spreading obscene images.