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A baby gets its caste determined even before being named, laments HC – Mrit News

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It doubts whether political parties would risk their vote bank to establish common burial grounds for all caste groups

It doubts whether political parties would risk their vote bank to establish common burial grounds for all caste groups

“When a baby is born in this country, his/her caste gets determined even before he/she is named. Caste consciousness is so deeply embedded in our social consciousness that its manifestation, more particularly in the countryside, is almost tyrannical in form,” the Madras High Court said.

Justices P.N. Prakash and A.A. Nakkiran said the establishment of common burial grounds for all caste groups in the villages could serve as a baby step towards the annihilation of castes in the country. However, they doubted whether the political parties would risk their vote bank for this cause.

Quoting Bharathiyar’s Tamil poem ‘Saathigal Illayadi Paapa’, in which he tells children that identifying fellow human beings by their caste is a sin, the Division Bench said: “Alas! Even after almost a century since his demise, these lines of the Mahakavi seem to remain only in the primary school textbooks and nowhere else.”

Further, referring to a study which found that the life expectancy of the so-called upper caste was higher than those belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, Justice Prakash wrote: “What the Dalits want is not merely reservation in government jobs and education, but emotional assimilation into the fabric of our society, and to be treated as equals.”

The judges observed so in their 144-page verdict sentencing 10 individuals to life imprisonment in the case of the killing of an inter-caste couple – M. Kannagi, a Caste Hindu, and S. Murugesan, belonging to a Scheduled Caste – from Pudukooraipettai village in Cuddalore district in 2003. Their bodies were burnt to screen the evidence.

The nine convicts included the woman’s father, brother and an Inspector of Police who attempted to save the accused through a botched investigation. The truth was brought out only after the High Court ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), due to the efforts made by activist-lawyer P. Rathinam by risking his life, the judges said.

“It is indeed strange as to why the buck stopped with Sellamuthu (Inspector of Police), and the CBI did not go above the level of the Inspector of Police to investigate the involvement of superior officers in hushing up the crime,” the judges said, and referred to the evidence indicating the involvement of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, too.

The police officers had falsely implicated Murugesan’s father Samikannu and two other Dalits as accused in the case, arrested them, recorded their reported confessions and effected make-believe seizures. However, the CBI subsequently gathered evidence to prove that it was a clear case of a caste killing.

The woman’s father, brother and others had tortured the couple and forced them to consume poison. The bodies were burnt, and it was made to appear as if the couple had committed suicide and, therefore, the family members cremated their bodies after finding them floating in a waterbody.

During the course of the trial, as many as 33 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile, and the reason was fear of the dominant caste group in the village. If the Scheduled Caste witnesses had dared to testify against the dominant caste, the latter would have issued an innocuous ‘Fatwa’ against them, the judges said.

“In a case of this nature…a duty is cast upon the court to remove the chaff from the grain to arrive at the truth,” Justice Prakash wrote, and found all 10 convicts guilty on the basis of available evidence.

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