India is in the 21st century. But some incidents still take place here that has the traits of crimes committed in the middle ages.

Kachanatham village in Sivaganga district in Southern Tamil Nadu was witness to such an incident where three Dalits were killed without any apparent reason. Apparently, they were murdered because they were sitting crossed-leg in front of a few upper caste Hindus. That was their offence which got the upper-class Hindus enraged and who ultimately allegedly killed them.

It was reported that the Dalits had been sitting crossed-leg in front of upper class Hindus on Monday night at a local temple.

K Arumugam (65) and A Shanmuganathan (31) were the two Dalits who succumbed to their injuries while being taken to the government hospitals after the attack on them on Monday night. Chandrasekar who was admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai died on Thursday morning. The total death toll in the incident has reached three.

Theiventhiran and Prabakaran, two young Dalits were sitting with their legs crossed outside Karuppasamy temple on May 26 which reportedly is the starting point of all the trouble. The Dalits were reportedly abused by two upper caste Hindus who had gone to the temple at that point in time. The upper caste Hindus took the gesture of the Dalits to be offensive and a dishonour to them, said A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, the Madurai-based NGO, in his fact-finding report.

An altercation ensued between the groups. The youth warned the upper caste people that if they did not stop commenting on their caste, they would file a complaint with the police. The Dalits were reportedly then beaten up.

The Dalits then lodged an FIUR against Chandra Kumar with the police who was booked under Section 294 (b) (uttering obscene words) of the IPC.

After this, Kumar’s son – C. Suman (19), decided to take revenge. He came from Avarankadu and nearby villages with his friends. The police said he went to Kachanatham and conducted the brutal attack. After disconnecting power to the village, they targeted the men in particular, with weapons and damaged their houses and other properties.

Following the incident, there were protests held by the victims’ family members and villagers for three days. The protesters refused to accept the bodies of the deceased from the morgue at the Rajaji hospital in Madurai.

The protestors also meet with the Sivaganga and Madurai district collectors who promised to consider their demands. It was decided in the meeting that the sub-inspectors of Palayanur and Thiruppachethi police stations would be suspended. Administrators considered the demands of the villagers and conceded that all the policemen posted in the Palayanur police station would be moved out. A police outpost would also be set up at Kachanatham village.

The district collectors promised to take up their demand with the government. The demands included increasing compensation from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for the family of the dead and Rs 10 lakh for those seriously injured.

T Chellakannu, deputy general secretary of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, affiliated to CPI (M) said “even though Kanchanatham is village comprising 30 Dalit families and five caste Hindu families, the Dalits were facing various forms of untouchability. The Dalits together own 150 acres of agricultural land but they will not get water for their crops until the caste Hindus releases to them.”

(Adapted from