TN: Madurai court convicts 10 in 2015 Dalit youth murder case

Ten of 17 defendants in the 2015 murder case of 21-year-old Dalit boy Gokulraj were convicted by a special court in Madurai on Saturday. The court acquitted five others and set March 8 for the sentencing of the convicts. One of the defendants died during the trial while another is still at large.

One of the convicts is S Yuvarajleader of Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai, a caste-centric organization that gained notoriety for running an intelligence network and using force to prevent inter-caste marriages.

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Gokulraj was abducted and killed in June 2015 by a group of men suspected of his relationship with a girl from the Gounder community, the most dominant caste in western Tamil Nadu.

The defendants were convicted under Articles 120(b) (criminal association), 364 (kidnapping) read with 34 (acts done by several persons in pursuit of a common intention), 109 (punishment of complicity), 384 (extortion), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as authentic a false document or electronic record) r/w 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 465 (false), 302 (murder), 201 (tampering with evidence), 212 (harbouring an offender), 216 (harbouring an escaped offender) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2)(v) of the Atrocity Prevention Act against SC/ST.

Besides Yuvaraj, his assistants Arun, Kumar, Sankar, Arul Vasantham, Selvakumar, Yuvaraj’s brother, Thangadurai, Sathishkumar, Raghu alias Sridhar and Ranjith were also convicted.

Gokulraj was abducted from the premises of the Thiruchengode temple where he was present with an upper caste girl from the OBC-Gounder community. Later, his decapitated body was found on a railway track near Erode.

The first crucial clue to identify the accused was the recording of a telephone conversation between the girl and the victim’s brother, in which the girl revealed that Gokulraj had been abducted by a group led by Yuvaraj from the temple. of Tiruchengode. The girl was also heard saying that the group snatched her phone and told her to go home before taking Gokulraj into their custody.

The girl and Gokulraj were classmates and the murder happened shortly after they finished their engineering course.

The case encountered several hurdles as the police were unable to locate the main defendant Yuvaraj who turned himself in months after the murder. The alleged suicide of Tiruchengode DSP Vishnupriya, who was investigating the case, was yet another controversy. A separate case was filed in relation to Vishnupriya’s suicide in September 2015, and Gokulraj’s murder case was transferred to CB-CID later.

Nearly a year before Gokulraj’s murder, Tiruchengode witnessed another controversy after Gounder’s majority community launched protests against ‘One Part Woman’, a book written by Perumal Murugan, forcing the author to withdraw all his books from the market.

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