No outrage over Kodagu horror: 34-year-old man beheads 16-year old ‘fiancé’ after child marriage is called off

Opposition parties in Karnataka that outraged over the murder of Neha Hiremath barely a month ago are mum over beheading of a teen in Kodagu.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 12, 2024 | 6:43 PMUpdatedMay 12, 2024 | 6:43 PM

Prakash, the accused

Less than a month ago, the murder of Neha Hiremath in Hubballi of Karnataka sparked outrage across the state. Fuelled by the BJP, barely days ahead of the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, protests in the case took communal overtones with allegations of “love jihad”. The outrage was centred around the identity of the accused – Fayaz K.

Barely a month since, another gruesome crime against a girl, a minor at that, hasn’t elicited even a peep from the Opposition parties that outraged over Neha murder. The perpetrator in this case, Prakash of Kodagu, beheaded a 16-year-old girl because he was stopped from marrying her.

The tragic tale of US Meena, a 16-year-old girl from a quiet village, has sent shockwaves across Karnataka’s Kodagu district.

The latest chapter of the teen’s story began with a timely bureaucratic intervention that caused sanity to prevail, only for everything to end in unspeakable horror.

Meena’s parents, prompted by government officials’ intervention regarding her underage engagement, made the courageous decision to call off her impending marriage.

However, this act of defiance against the perils of child marriage led to Meena’s gruesome murder in Surlabbi village of Somawarapete taluka on Thursday, 9 May.

In a chilling turn of events, her erstwhile fiancé — Prakash Omkarappa, a 34-year-old resident of Hamiyala — decapitated the young girl in a fit of rage.

A case was registered in this regard at the Somawarapete Police Station. The cops on Saturday nabbed Prakash, who had been at large since the incident.

Police took him for a spot inquest and located the remainder of the mortal remains of the victim.

This heinous crime — a stark reminder of the complexities surrounding tradition, love, and the vulnerability of minors in the face of archaic customs — has left a lasting scar on the conscience of the village and beyond.

Related: Communalising crimes against women in Karnataka

The incident

An engagement ceremony took place against the backdrop of Meena’s academic achievement — the modest success of securing 50.24 percent in the SSLC examinations.

The ceremony was to be the catalyst for celebration, but what transpired would plunge the community into a nightmare of unfathomable proportions.

Kodagu Superintendent of Police (SP) PK Ramarajan told reporters on Saturday, after Prakash’s arrest: “The engagement ceremony of Meena and accused Prakash was held after the SSLC results were declared on Thursday.”

They were apparently in love for the past few years, and the ceremony was held at the residence in Surlabbi on Thursday after her parents had accepted their relationship.

The SP noted: “As one of the villagers alerted the child helpline [about the child marriage], officials from the Social Welfare Department rushed to the girl’s house the same day.”

He added: “The officials succeeded in convincing both the families to hold the marriage only after the girl turned 18. The families assured them that they would abide by the law, and so the officers returned.”

Ramarajan also told reporters on Saturday: “The accused was anxious because the marriage with the victim had broken down.

He added: “Prakash visited the girl’s home a few hours later and urged her parents to marry their daughter to him. He then attacked the girl’s mother when she objected to the marriage.”

The SP continued: “He dragged the girl out of the house and beheaded her. The accused, who was known to the victim’s family, took a machete from her house and killed her. He then fled with the severed head.” stated the SP.

The cops registered a case in this regard at the Somawarapete Police Station, booking Prakash under Sections 320 (grievous hurt) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The victim’s family demanded that the police punish the accused severely.

Also Read: Interfaith marriage triggers clash between Hindu outfit and police in Bagalkot

Prakash arrested

Prakash was on the run when he was arrested at Garwali village near Somawarapete in the early hours of Saturday.

Confirming the arrest of Prakash, the SP said the accused was anxious as the marriage with the victim had fallen through.

He noted: “After the girl’s head was cut off, the accused went to his house and plotted to kill another woman — the one who had called up the children’s helpline — and ran away with a loaded gun.”

He added: “The police provided protection to the girl’s parents. The accused was arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning in Garhwali village.”

Meanwhile, carrying out the spot inquest, police on Sunday reportedly found the decapitated head of the victim about 100m away from the crime scene in Somwarapete.

The Kodagu SP also confirmed the identification of the remaining mortal remains of the victim, which were found during the spot inquest.

Ramarajan also said: “The accused was produced before the court and remanded in judicial custody. Further investigation is underway.”

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)