Udumalpet honour killing: Madras HC acquits Kausalya’s father

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The High Court has upheld the conviction of only the hired killers, and commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment of 25 years.

The Madras High Court on Monday acquitted Chinnasamy, Kausalya’s father, who was sentenced to death in the sensational Udumalpet honour killing case.

Sankar, a Dalit man who married Kausalya, a higher Thevar woman, was murdered in broad daylight in 2016, sending shock waves across the country state. Sankar was attacked and left to die on the road while Kausalya suffered grievous injury.  

Principal District and Sessions court in Tiruppur had awarded death sentence to six of the 11 accused. A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar set aside the death sentence imposed on Gowsalya’s fther B Chinnaswamy and acquitted him of all charges.

The court also commuted the death sentence of five others in the case to a life sentence of 25 years. The lower court had In December 2017 acquitted the woman’s mother Annalakshmi and uncle Pandidurai. Acquittal of Kausalya’s mother and two others have also been confirmed by the court, as there was an appeal moved by an investigation officer against their acquittal in the trial court.

The convicts now include only the men who were hired to kill Sankar – Jagedesan, Manikandan, Selvakumar, Kalai Tamilvanan, Madan alias Michael. Chinnasamy’s lawyer ARL Sundaresan was quoted by News Minute as saying that his client was acquitted as the prosecution could not prove conspiracy between Chinnasamy and the gang.

“The video recording from a shop was relied on by the prosecution, but it was recovered after four days and it could have been morphed,” Sundaresan said. “We argued that the expert who looked at the video was not a proper one.”

The murder outside the Udumalpet bus stand had shook the country as it was captured by a CCTV camera. Video footage of the crime went viral on social media, triggering protests across the state. The prosecution case was that the gang that killed Shankar was allegedly sent by his wife Kausalya’s father, a driver and a local money lender, from Palani.

According to Indian Express, Shankar and Kausalya had met two years before the murder while they were studying at an engineering college in Pollachi, near Coimbatore. After her family opposed their relationship, she started staying at Shankar’s house.

The murder happened on a day they visited Udumalpet town to buy clothes for his birthday and a farewell party in the college, eight months after their marriage.

It was the CCTV footage that had helped the police nab the culprits. The footage showed Shankar collapsing in a pool of blood after the attack and Kausalya pleading for help. Kausalya’s statement against her own parents played a key role in the conviction in the lower court when mainstream political parties including the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK chose not to intervene in the case fearing a backlash from the powerful OBC-Thevar community, to which Kausalya’s family belonged.

Kausalya’s legal fight saw her emerge as an icon of anti-caste movements and a familiar face in collectives against caste and honour killings across the state. In December 2018, she married Sakthi, an activist and the player of parai, a traditional Music instrument.

Meanwhile, the government counsel said they will challenge the HC order in a higher court. “We will study the order, look at reasons for this acquittal and we will go ahead with an appeal. The government has a strong view against such caste murders, we will challenge it,” he was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

Image Credit: News Minute

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