Casting a doubt over the safety of those who fight for the rights of Dalits, A Kathir, Executive Director, Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO working for the welfare of downtrodden section, said around 15- 20 Dalit activists are murdered every year in the State.
Ashok, who was the treasurer of DYFI’s Tirunelveli unit, was allegedly murdered by persons of intermediate castes. The issue became a huge controversy after family members and Left parties staged a mega protest, following which the accused was arrested.
According to Kathir, Ashok had antagonised persons of intermediate castes by filing a complaint against them after he and his mother were attacked. Evidence had carried out a field inspection and collected statements from his family and villagers.
“On April 27 this year, when Ashok and his mother, Ayudayammal, were returning in a bike, a packet of grass which they were carrying touched Pechiraja, who hailed from an intermediate caste. An agitated Pechiraja, joined by his relatives, then abused and attacked the mother-son duo. Subsequently, a case was registered under the Scheduled Caste/Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” said Kathir.
The incident triggered tension among those from intermediate castes in the village and this led to a fake case being filed against Ashok. “A relative of Pechiraja, named as Isakkimuthu, initially filed a complaint claiming that he was attacked by seven persons, including Ashok. Based on his complaint a FIR was filed. However, the complaint was withdrawn. Isakkimuthu then said Ashok was the one who attacked him and hence another FIR was registered,” said Kathir.
Though the local police knew that the FIR filed was fake they did not take any action and indirectly supported the persons of intermediate castes. Under the circumstance, when Ashok was waiting at a bus stop on June 12, a gang which included Pechiraja hacked Ashok to death, he claimed.
Kathir urged the Human Rights Commission to interfere in the issue and carry out inspection on the ground immediately. The accused should be arrested under the Goondas Act and an official in the rank of SP should investigate the incident.
Furthermore, Rs 50 lakh should be given as compensation to Ashok’s family, while a government job should be provided for one of his kin along with monthly pension of Rs 11,600, he demanded.