Sunday 25 September 2016

Lower-caste man hacked to death after marrying upper-caste woman

Andrew Marzal in Delhi

Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30

Footage of the killing was captured on CCTV cameras and onlookers' mobile phones. Photo: PA
Footage of the killing was captured on CCTV cameras and onlookers' mobile phones. Photo: PA

A member of India's lowest "untouchable" caste who married an upper-caste woman was hacked to death in broad daylight on a busy market street.

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V Shankar, a 22-year-old engineering student, and his 19-year-old wife Kausalya were set on by three men wielding scythes in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, as a crowd of bystanders watched in horror.

The pair had married eight months earlier but some of Kausalya's family, who are from the politically dominant Thevar community, objected to the marriage.

Footage of the killing was captured on CCTV cameras and onlookers' mobile phones. The assailants, who fled on a motorcycle, have yet to be identified by police.

Mr Shankar, who suffered multiple injuries, including a deep sickle gash to his neck, was declared dead on arrival at Coimbatore hospital.

Kausalya remains in intensive care with severe head injuries, but is "out of danger", officials said.

According to Mr Shankar's family, some relatives of Kausalya had opposed their marriage because of his humble caste status.

Dalits - or "untouchables" - occupy the lowest position on India's strict, hierarchical caste system, which is composed of self-contained and unalterable social groups into which Indians are born and in which they are usually expected to marry.

Just a few weeks before the attack, Kausalya had filed a police complaint against her own father for allegedly threatening her and her husband and insisting that she return home, an official told the 'Indian Express'.

Kausalya's father went for questioning at a police station yesterday, but denies any involvement.

The couple met at a private engineering college in Pollachi, where they fell in love. They had been visiting a department store in Udumalaipettai town when they were attacked on Sunday afternoon.

Official statistics reported 28 honour killings in India in 2014, the most recent year on record, although UN estimates say the true figure could be as high as 1,000.

The state of Madhya Pradesh had the most murders due to honour killings in 2014 - one in four took place in the central state, according to India's authorities.

That same year, an additional 1,307 murders due to love affairs were counted across India. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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