Politics based on religion and caste led to the death of a love-struck teenager in Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. The love affair between N Divya, a Vanniyar community girl and E Ilavarasan, an evangelised Dalit boy, ended as a sordid saga with Ilavarasan allegedly committing suicide on Thursday afternoon.
The body of Ilavarasan was found near railway tracks in Dharmapuri, hardly 24 hours after Divya telling the media in Chennai that she would not go back to the youth, who had claimed that he had married her.
Asra Garg, the Superintendent of Police, Dharmapuri, told reporters that the Railway Police was inquiring the death and it was too early to reach conclusions about the cause of death. Tense situation prevailed in most areas of the district following the death. Police have been deployed in Naickenkotta, the village of the deceased which saw rioting in November.
lawyers of Divya and her mother had disputed the claim made by Ilavarasan that he married Divya. “The boy is not yet 19. She has completed 22 years. Hence, the claim that he had married her does not stand before the law,” said K Balu, her lawyer.
The love and elopement led to violent incidents in Dharmapuri and other parts of Tamil Nadu. Immediately after Divya eloped with Ilavarasan in November 2012, Nagarajan, her father, committed suicide. He felt humiliated over the incident since it is “unimaginable” for a member of the Vanniyar community to love and marry a Dalit.
Nagarajan’s suicide led to large-scale riot in Dharmapuri. More than 200 houses in the village of were set on fire. The National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe visited the riot-affected areas and the district administration was given a dressing down.
The Pattali Makkal Katchi, a political outfit representing the interests of the Vanniyar community, launched an agitation against the wooing of the girls belonging to the community by Dalit boys. Dr S Ramdoss, party founder came down heavily on “love dramas” enacted by Dalit youth on Vanniyar girls with the active connivance of some political leaders. He called for a judicial probe into all inter-caste marriages which took place in Tamil Nadu during the last four years.
Kaduvetti Guru, a leading member of the PMK, warned Vanniyar youth of any affair with members of the Dalit community. The Divya-Ilavarasan romance is said to be the one of the reasons behind the widespread riots in Marakkanam near Chennai in April last. This led to the detainment of Guru and more than a dozen PMK leaders under the National Security Act.
Meanwhile, Thenmozhi, mother of Divya, had filed a habeas corpus petition before the Madras High Court. Divya, who presented herself in front of the court, told the judges that she wanted to be with her mother and brother. On Wednesday, she told the court as well as the journalists in Chennai that she would not go back to Ilavarasan since the happiness of her mother and brother was more important to her.
She also made it known to the court as well as the media that there was no pressure on her from anybody and she took the decision after days of introspection and reflection. The decision to go back with her mother and brother was the culmination of the habeas corpus petition filed by her mother in the High Court through her lawyer Balu.
Balu said there was no marriage between Divya and Ilavarasan as made out by the media. “It is true that she went with Ilavarasan. But that itself was the result of some pressure exerted by the youth who is yet to cross the age for legal marriage,” he explained.
Divya said though she wanted to come back to her mother immediately after the suicide by her father, Ilavarasan and his family did not allow her to return. “I was subjected to emotional blackmail and I had to fall in line,” she had said.
She said she was sad that from the first day she appeared in the Madras High Court, a section of the media has been publishing news contradictory to what she told them. “A leading daily quoted Ilavarasan as telling that I conceived twice and on both occasions it was aborted. It is a baseless report published with ulterior motive,” said Divya.
Balu, who arranged the meeting, said he wanted to set everything right. “There was no marriage between them as the boy is under-aged. He could make Divya obey him through emotional blackmail. Please understand that she is from a village in Dharmapuri and is entirely different from the kind of girls who are brought up in a city,” said Balu.
Consequent to her going back with her mother, the habeas corpus petition filed by her mother was withdrawn. The High Court is expected to pronounce its verdict in the petition within the next few days.