At the age of 20, Kausalya has seen it all. Defying her parents she married Shankar, a Dalit youth. Only eight months into the marriage she, along with Shankar, was attacked by a murderous mob in a case of honour killing. Though she managed to survive she lost her husband in the onslaught. Suddenly life became an endless nightmare for her. In the days followed she suffered bouts of depression and even attempted suicide. But slowly things got better and she didn’t allow herself cowed down by fate or the hatred meted out to her for marrying the man she loved. She pulled herself together and joined in the war against caste based hate-crimes in the state.
The most horrifying fact in the honour killing was that it was Kausalya’s own family that hired mercenaries to kill the couple. Her family which belongs to an intermediate caste was offended by her decision to marry a Dalit boy and wanted to slaughter their own daughter along with her husband. In March last year an armed gang hacked the couple outside a shopping mall in broad daylight, in Udumalaipet near Tirupur. Shankar succumbed to injuries and Kausalya survived, only to rise from her ordinary girl status and don the role of a crusader against casteist discriminations and hate-crimes.
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She was determined that the perpetrators, including her own mother and father, were brought to justice. While the case was under trial in a lower court in Tirupur she opposed to the bail plea by her parents in the Madras High Court for about 58 times. The trial court delivered its verdict in the case last week awarding death sentence to six persons including Kausalya’s father. Kausalya showed no remorse whatsoever on hearing the verdict but insisted that she will appeal in the higher court challenging the acquittal of the 3 people whose involvement in the crime was not established for lack of incriminating evidence. Her mother was one among the acquitted.
Long before the verdict Kausalya has been in the forefront of rallies, seminars and film screenings dedicated to the cause of Dalits. She has become a poster-girl for people who demand severe state action against honour-killings involving Dalits. Kausalya has planned her new journey in the Ambedkarite, and Periyarist paths. She works in tandem with Dalit-rights organisations dedicated to the removal and prevention of discrimination and ill-treatment of Dalits and hate-onslaughts on them.
Kausalya has been trolled and abused in social media, mainly by people of her caste, for ‘betraying’ the caste in which she was born. But this youngster moves on with grit and determination unmindful of her detractors. It is not easy for a young woman to bounce back from the traumatic experiences of such magnitude. Kausalya has not only risen up, she has started a passionate campaign to decimate what that felled her, too. Indeed, a nondescript victim has beautifully transformed into a noteworthy crusader.
Where can we place honour killings in a civilised society? Share your views.