Youth leader and activist
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on 18 September regarding the brutal murder of a young Dalit human rights defender, on June 12, 2019, in Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu by five people in his village as well as inaction by Meenatchinathan, Inspector of Police, Thatchanallur Police Station. Mr Ashok was the District Treasurer of Democratic Youth Federation of India and belonged to the Pallar community (which is categorised as Scheduled Caste). Mr. Ashok had been continuously working on various social issues in the district of Tirunelveli, especially in his village of Karaiyiruppu.
Since the early 1990s, southern districts in Tamil Nadu, including Tirunelveli have been prone to caste based violence, with tensions between Dalits and dominant communities ongoing. In the same district, a few years ago, four Dalits were killed by the dominant caste. It was in this context that Mr. Ashok was attacked on April 21, 2019 by Pechiraja, Ramachandra Thevar, Mookan, Ganesan, Balu, Murugan and Subramanian. His mother was with him when the attack happened and this group of five persons belonging to the dominant caste made insults including using filthy language about Mr. Ashok’s caste.
Mr. Ashok’s mother tried to intervene but she too was beaten up by the five men and they both were admitted at the Palayamkottai Government Hospital, after which they filed a complaint against the assailants at the Thatchanallur Police Station in Tirunelveli District. However, a false case was filed against Mr. Ashok, registered by the Inspector of Police, Meenatchinathan subsequently whilst no action was taken against the perpetrators who attacked Mr. Ashok and his mother earlier. Pechiraja and the four others were known to be planning revenge.
On June 12, 2019, Mr. Ashok was leaving for his work at night around 10.30 pm and was accompanied by his father Murugan and his friends Sivasankar, Gouthaman and Murugan. While they all were crossing near the railway line to go near Sivakumar Mills in this village, suddenly, the five men who had earlier attacked Mr. Ashok in May appeared. With machetes and other deadly weapons, the five men attacked Mr. Ashok on his head and chest as his father and friends, being threatened to be killed themselves, could not help. They shouted “How dare you act against our caste and file case against us. You can only act against us if you are alive,” as they hacked Mr. Ashok to death.