He killed the writer in Perumal Murugan, and then a Dalit youth
In a shocking revelation, the man accused of the murder of Dalit youth Gokulraj whose beheaded body was found near Salem rail track last week was also responsible for the controversy over Perumal Murugan’s novel Maathoru Paagan – a controversy that ultimately led to Murugan’s announcement of his death as a writer.
An engineering graduate, Gokulraj was allegedly murdered by castiest elements led by Yuvaraj after the former was found to be in love with his class mate who belonged to the dominant Kongu Vellalar community of which Yuvaraj was a prominent activist. Ironically Gokulraj was abducted from the same Arthanareeshwarar temple which had formed the backdrop of Maathoru Paagan.
Informed sources in and around Thiruchengode say that Yuvaraj besides being a community leader has been a points-person for the parents of the girls who allegedly fell in love with ‘boys from lower caste.’ “Gokulraj’s murder cannot be seen as a case in isolation. For the last two years, Yuvaraj has spearheaded campaigns against love marriages and against Dalits in the area” says Madurai based Dalit writer Stalin Rajangam who was part of the fact-finding team of Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions (ICSA) that probed into Gokulraj murder.
Sources say the family of Gokulraj’s girl friend too had approached Yuvaraj for help to ward him off but never expected him ‘to murder Gokulraj.’
“The role of Yuvaraj, prime accused in this case, has been downplayed, enough evidence proves that he was involved in moral policing, and was also part of a campaign against inter-caste marriages to prevent girls from his community of Kongu Vellala Gounders marrying boys of other castes, particularly Dalits. This helped him gain access to address to his community students in various colleges within the Kongu region. By doing so, he built a network and solicited information about relationships if any between dalit boys and Kongu Vellala girls. As a person who reflected the caste majoritarian psyche in this region, Yuvaraj gained acceptance as a caste mafia and someone who could keep their caste pride intact,” the report of the fact finding team says.
Rajangam says the team could also establish that Yuvaraj was involved in the Perumal Murugan episode. Murugan’s novel Mathoru Paagan (One part woman in English – published by Penguin) ran into controversy four years after it was published when some castiest forces claimed that the novel showed their (Kongu Vellalar) women in poor light. The controversy ran for several weeks during which Murugan was forced to enter into an agreement in presence of the local DRO at Namakkal district collector office wherein he had agreed to remove the ‘objectionable portions’ of the novel and withdraw the novels in print from bookshelves. Following this, Murugan had announced his death as a writer. “He had threatened to kill Perumal Murugan. Yuvaraj also played a prominent role in the one-sided panchayat that was held at Nammkkal district collector office where Murugan was forced to withdraw his work,” says Kannan, publisher of Kalachuvadu that published Mathoru Paagan.
“In Perumal Murugan issue no step was taken by the administration against the casteist forces that whipped up violence publicly for many months. It is not mere coincidence that the same Arthanareeswarar temple that was site of action for both Hindutva and casteist forces back then is site of abduction of Gokulraj. Yuvaraj had organised the mob that was present at the Namakkal collectorate for the so called peace meeting on Jan 12th,2015 which was then used by the administration to cow down Perumal Murugan into signing a contract against his will. Had the government acted sternly then, Gokulraj may not have been murdered now . When they tasted blood killing a writer metaphorically it was only a matter of time before then would kill another victim for real. Saving the honour of Gounder women, especially from Dalit men, is the reason in both cases,” Kannan says.
The State might have to pay more heads and pens for its complacence, if it continued.