Dalit’s death turns out to be murder, 6 held
NAMAKKAL: Two days after a court-appointed medical team submitted its report to the Madras high court after conducting autopsy on the body of a dalit youth, the Tiruchengode police on Wednesday altered the case from ‘suspicious death’ to murder and arrested six men. Theheadless body of 23-year-old V Gokulraj, an engineering graduate, was found on a railway track at Thottipalayam in Namakkal district on June 24. The severed head was found nearby.
“We have altered case registered by the Erode railway police under Section 174 (suspicious death) of CrPC to Section 302 (murder) of the IPC based on the autopsy report,” Namakkal superintendent of police SR Senthil Kumar told TOI. He confirmed that six persons had been picked up in connection with the case. He declined to comment on the autopsy report. “I cannot reveal details of the autopsy report as it’s confidential. But, we have initiated investigations based on the report,” Kumar said.
The youth’s death triggered tension in the caste-sensitive region with family members and dalit outfits alleging that Gokulraj was murdered by some members of the gounder community.
The youth was last seen talking to a girl from the community. Based on a petition, the high court ordered postmortem by a medical team constituted by it. The autopsy report was given to the investigating officer, DSP Vishnu Priya, by the court.
A senior officer involved in the investigation said Gokulraj’s head appeared to have been chopped off using a sharp instrument before he was run over by a train. “During autopsy, forensic experts found cut marks on the lower neck,” said the officer, seeking anonymity. Gokulraj’s mother V Chitra had initially lodged a complaint of abduction when her son went missing. She was summoned by the Erode railway police to identify her son’s body on June 25.
After Gukulraj’s body was found, various dalit outfits, including VCK and BSP, staged protests demanding that police register a case of murder. It was based on a petition by the Salem district president of BSP Rasa Parthiban that the HC nominated Sri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital forensic department head Dr Sampath Kumar to conduct postmortem with the help of two government doctors. The autopsy was performed on June 27 and the report submitted to the HC registrargeneral on June 29.
Chitra had refused to receive her son’s body after the postmortem, demanding that police alter the case to murder. She also demanded that a case be register under the SCST (prevention of atrocities) Act. She has agreed to accept the body after police decided to alter the case.
“The postmortem report has come out with the truth.Now, it is up to the police to conduct fair investigation and take stern action against all the accused,” she said.
The funeral would be held on Thursday. Family members and VCK cadres, who were on an indefinite fast since Sunday, called off their agitation on Wednesday.