Death of Ilavarasan: a challenge to casteist India

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Death of Ilavarasan: a challenge to casteist India.

An open letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister 

Miss J. Jayalalithaa,
Chief Minister,
Tamil Nadu.

News of E. Illavarasan, the Dalit youth who married a woman from a ‘dominant’ caste, found dead two days ago, has shocked us. This incident points to the collective failure of governments, politicians, judges, lawyers, police, media and even the citizens. Ironically, this has taken place in a country where the law of the state disallows caste-based discrimination, and instead supports equality such as in cases of inter-caste marriages. The failure of the state to control the dominant caste people’s unwarranted physical and mental torture of Dalit communities has made the situation worse. Quite bluntly, it is a shame that this has happened in a place which prides itself in the rich legacy of champions like Periyar E. V. Ramasamy who vehemently opposed caste-based discrimination.

It is a discouraging fact that caste plays a major role in politics. Hate campaigns, which have been unleashed by certain dominant caste groups of political leaders to reap electoral gains against the Dalits in Tamil Nadu, regressively drive the country to degenerate. Instead of taking measures for the destruction of caste, the casteist political parties and groups are directly or indirectly allowed to violently suppress Dalit strivings. In such a situation, Ilavarasan’s death ceases to be a local issue of a person’s death, and rises to the level of being a quest for basic rights. It has multifaceted meanings and implications, which should be addressed both by the state government as well as the public in Tamil Nadu. It is now high time to work together to end caste-based discriminations and violence against the marginalized communities.

Therefore we demand:

1. To take stringent measures to prevent the caste-based political parties from committing acts of violence towards Dalits.
2. To give freedom for the commission of Inquiry headed by S.R. Singaravelu, former Judge of the Madras High Court, to probe the entire issue without bias or any external pressure to give justice to the family of Ilavarasan.
3. To give suitable compensation to the family of Ilavarasan (even though nothing can really compensate for the value of his life).
4. To promote inter-caste marriages using government-sponsored advertisements and campaigns through various media.
5. To assure protection from the State and its legal bodies for those desiring inter-caste marriages.

Mrs. Ramani Ramya Krupa
Commission on Dalits, NCCI

 Rev Sunil Raj Philip,
Executive Secretary,  
Commission on Dalits, NCCI




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