An unidentified group of people in India’s Tamil Nadu state this week murdered a man and his three-months-pregnant wife in what local authorities believe to be an inter-caste marriage hate crime that could potentially mark the second such incident in the same area in a week.
“If the police assessment on it being a hate crime is true, this will be the second such incident in a week after the murder of an inter-caste couple in [the Tamil Nadu city of] Coimbatore on [June] 25,” the Hindustan Times (HT) reports.
The police believe a group of people killed the couple early on Wednesday.
“After committing the crime, the group fled the spot. We have learned that the woman’s family was against the marriage; so, we are suspecting this to be a case of hate crime,” Arun Balagopalan, the superintendent of the local police, told reporters after inspecting the crime scene.
Police officers have identified Wednesday’s victims only as 24-year-old husband Solairajan and his pregnant wife Jothi, 21.
Solairajan’s aunt Karpagam asserted that Jothi’s father repeatedly threatened the couple.
“They did not stop threatening them even after the marriage. Though we are Dalits, they were opposed to the marriage since we belong to a different sub-sect. Jothi was three months pregnant, and the way in which they have been brutally murdered is horrible,” Karpagam declared.
Solairajan’s family filed a complaint against his wife’s relatives, prompting authorities to arrest Jothi’s father Alagar in connection to the murders.
Jothi reportedly left her home and got married in April despite her family’s opposition to the union. The husband’s relatives had no problem with the marriage, according to police.
Referring to the couple’s murder, HT notes, “The incident came to light when the couple wasn’t to be seen on Thursday morning, and the door to their house remained closed. Neighbors, accompanied by Solairajan’s mother Muthumari, forced open the door.”
“When we opened the door, we were shocked to see the couple lying in a pool of blood with deep cut injuries all over,” Karpagam, the husband’s aunt, declared.
India is no stranger to caste-related fatalities. In May, local news outlets reported that a father set his 19-year-old daughter and her 23-year-old husband ablaze for marrying out of caste.
“According to the police, 23-year-old Mangesh Ransing, and his wife Rukmini (19) were doused in kerosene and set on fire in Ahmednagar’s Nighoj village by three of Rukmini’s relatives — including her father and two uncles — on May 1,” the Hindu reported.