A 13-year-old girl from the Salem district of Tamil Nadu was brutally beheaded with a sickle after she reportedly refused to have sex with her neighbour.
According to the local press, the victim – the daughter of low-income labourers – had told her mother about their neighbour’s continuous sexual advances that she had turned down, before she was violently murdered.
The horrific murder is believed to be motivated in part by caste discrimination since the victim is from a low-caste family and the perpetrator is from a higher caste.
Revealing that the neighbour, named Dinesh Kumar, has been arrested, senior police official Ponkarthik Kumar told reporters: “The girl was brutally murdered. The investigation is ongoing and the accused has been arrested.”
While the police have charged Dinesh Kumar under the act that criminalises caste-based violence, one publication indicated that Dinesh Kumar may get off with a lighter sentence since it claims that the police have classified him as mentally disturbed.
Activists have hit out at the authorities for not adequately protecting those from the lower castes. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 47,000 crimes against people of lower castes were committed in 2016.
One political activist who champions rights for those from the low caste, Radhika Ganesh, said:
“Why does the establishment not show that strength? Such incidents are constantly happening. When we are pushing for advocacy, the political will must be questioned, or the lack of political will must be questioned
“The reason behind the violence is the high level of politicization of caste-based politics. Because of that there is extensive abuse of political power.”