CHENNAI: A week before three elephants died after coming into contact with an illegal electric fence in Dharmapuri, a court in Villupuram had sentenced a man to seven years in jail in connection with the electrocution of a Dalit woman and her son near his farm in 2017.
Though the Villupuram Police had invoked the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act against the farmer, it did not hold up in court. The man was eventually convicted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (304 (ii) of IPC) and for electricity theft on February 27.
While illegal electric fencing around farms is largely erected to prevent crop damage by animals, there have been instances where land owners from intermediate caste have used it as a means to squabble with Dalits who own lands adjacent to theirs, say activists.
In the National award-winning 2019 film, Asuran directed by filmmaker Vetrimaaran, the electrocution of a dog belonging to a Dalit family in the electric fence erected by a landlord from an intermediate caste and the dispute over it is what sets off the whole conflict in the movie. In the movie, the landlord would want to acquest the Dalit family’s land
The case in hand is similar too as the victim’s family alleged in their complaint that they (the accused) had repeatedly asked their mother to give their field for sale, which was refused as a result of which the accused planned and murdered her.
On the night of July 26, 2017, the victims, Baby and her son Ezhilkumar went to their Sugarcane field in Kongurayan village in Villupuram district to water the fields and did not return home. The next morning, they were found dead. Police investigations revealed that they came in contact with a live wire from the neighbouring farmland
Thiruvennainallur Police had arrested two persons, M Bhaskar and his brother, M Babu, who stole electricity by hooking it from a pole in another farmland and connected it to the fence around their land to prevent wild pigs from destroying crops, knowing very well that it will be a threat to life.
Babu died during the course of the trial and charges against him were abated. After hearing all submissions by the prosecution, Sessions Judge A Packia Jothi of the special court for the exclusive trial of cases under SC/ST (POA) Act held that the accused is guilty under 304 (ii) of IPC and 135 (1) (a) of Electricity Act.
For the offence under sections of the SC/ST (POA) Act, the court held that the accused is not guilty, citing a Supreme Court judgment.
“The accused did not know that Baby and Ezhilkumar who belong to schedule caste will come to his property and come in contact with live wires. The offence has not been committed just because the victims belong to the scheduled caste, “ the court held and sentenced Bhaskar to seven years imprisonment.
Sessions Judge A Packia Jothi of the special court held that the accused is guilty under 304 (ii) of IPC and 135 (1) (a) of Electricity Act
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