Tamil Nadu: 10 attack Dalit teenager in Tirunelveli district — FIR filed and 5 arrested

Kumar, a 16-year-old, was allegedly beaten up by his classmates for intervening in a fight between two caste Hindus boys in the school.

ByLaasya Shekhar

Published Aug 20, 2023 | 6:17 AMUpdatedAug 20, 2023 | 6:17 AM

5 of the 10 named in the FIR have been arrested by the police. (Creative Commons)

A 16-year-old student belonging to a Scheduled Caste (SC) community is the most recent victim of caste-related violence in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district. 

Kumar*, a student of Kazhugumalai Government Higher Secondary School, was allegedly beaten up by 10 of his classmates on Friday, 18 August, for intervening in a fight between caste Hindus. 

The incident

Kumar intervened when Guru* and another student Jai* were fighting at the school. An agitated Guru insulted Kumar with casteist slurs. “Who are you to intervene in our fight?” Guru, allegedly asked, as mentioned in the FIR filed at the Kazhugumalai Police Station. 

Later, Guru gathered nine of his friends, tried to locate Kumar at Lakshmipuram, the latter’s village. Guru is from the Backward Class, whereas his friends belong to the Most Backward Classes (MBC).

The gang brutally assaulted Kumar, dragged him by his hair, and humiliated with casteist slurs.

“They escaped only when the onlookers shouted at the gang and rushed in to help Kumar,” said police sources from the Kazhugumalai Police Station. 

Kumar, who suffered injuries to his head and arms, was admitted at the Kovilpatti General Hospital.

Also Read: Kin of upper-caste Hindu girl suspected of ‘honour’ killing Dalit teen

FIR filed against attackers

The Kazhugumalai Police registered an FIR against the 10 students under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 147 (punishment for committing the offence of rioting), 294(b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene words in public places), 506/2 (criminal intimidation).

The students have also been slapped with Section 3(1)R (intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate SC/ST members in a public place) among other sections of the The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. 

The Kazhugumalai Police have arrested five students and are on the lookout for the others. 

Murugan Kanna, an activist, who is following the case, told South First that the boy is waiting for the MRI reports and is yet to be discharged from the hospital. 

Related: Dalit man made to fall at feet of caste Hindus as relatives burst crackers

Series of crimes

Caste atrocities have been making the news in Tamil Nadu in recent times. 

In November 2016, P Venkatesh, a 17-year-old Dalit student of MDT Hindu Higher Secondary School, was hacked to death by his classmates in Tirunelveli. The victim and the assailants were in loggerheads for two years, Mumbai Mirror reported. 

17-year-old Selva Surya of Pappakudi in Tirunelveli district died in May 2022, two days after he got into a tiff with three students. Selva Surya was angry with a Dalit boy for wearing a coloured band that is a caste identity, the Times of India reported. 

On 9 August, a gang of six juveniles, all under 16 years of age, attacked a Dalit boy at Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district. The gang also hacked the boy’s 14-year-old sister, who came to her brother’s rescue.

(* Names changed to maintain anonymity)