Four beheadings in ten days: TN Police on high alert! What's happening in southern Tamil Nadu?

The rampant grounds of caste have been posing a serious threat in the areas of southern Tamil Nadu as the state had witnessed four beheadings in ten days. The back-to-back crimes had heavily disturbed the law and order and put out a major ordeal to the state law enforcement agency. The unprecedented developments had alarmed that the caste violence has been getting escalated between the communities and that the prevailing hostility has been costing several lives.

As the caste-based animosity continues, the Tamil Nadu Police have been staying alert and deploying adequate mechanisms to counter unlawful activities. The police department had come under strong criticism in recent days over the failure in preventing a series of murders and beheadings in the districts like Tirunelveli and Dindigul. As the appalling tussle under the name of caste has been pervasive in souther districts, the people fear whether these would open up the pandora box of riots and violence that happened in the 90s. 

Speaking to IANS, a 28-year-old IT professional from Tirunelveli, who is working in Chennai, has said, "I am ashamed to tell people that I belong to Tirunelveli after all these beheadings in my home district. The fight in the name of caste and reprisal killings after several years for revenge is taking us back to the stone age. I won't go back home till the situation returns normal." Several people from these areas echoed their worry that their hometowns are becoming violent and the police had now arrived in these areas and their presence has brought the areas close to normalcy. 

On September 13, Sankara Subramanian from the Thevar caste was murdered and the killers had beheaded him. His severed head was found at the cremation ground in Gopalasamudram in Tirunelveli. The police had launched the investigation and in retaliation, a gang had murdered 35-year-old Mariappan, a Dalit man on September 15 in Tirunelveli and the gang had severed Mariappan's head and placed it at the spot where Sankara Subramanian was murdered.

Following the investigation, the police had arrested six people including 20-year-old Maharaja for killing Sankara Subramanian and eight people were arrested for the murder of Mariappan. Both these murders had taken place in Tirunelveli district in two days and in what has become a more shocking incident, 70-year-old woman Nirmala Devi was murdered and her head was cut off. Nirmala Devi was the fifth accused in the murder of Dalit leader Pasupathi Pandian and after her head was chopped off by the assailants, it was kept before Pandian's residence. 

The murder of Nirmala Devi had occurred in the morning hours of Thursday - September 23 in Dindigul. Nirmala Devi was charged with the murder of Pandian after she had given safe haven to the assailants who had killed Pandian. While Nirmala Devi's beheading was third, 38-year-old Stephen Raj had become fourth to get beheaded. According to reports, Stephen Raj was murdered and beheaded on September 23 in Anumantharayan Kottai, Dindigul. He was murdered by the assailants who came in a two-wheeler and his head was beheaded. 

Stephen Raj's murder had occurred on the same day in the same district of the murder of Nirmala Devi and the police have been facing an ordeal in finding out the reason behind Stephen Raj's murder, which had become the fourth beheading incident in ten days. The police had affirmed that strict action will be taken against those who are taking the law into their hands and these incidents had levied more tensions on the ruling DMK government and it was in the need to expedite the probe in Tirunelveli, which is going for the rural local body polls in two weeks. 

Speaking to the reporters, South Zone Inspector General of Police TS Anbu has said that the police will eliminate the gangs who are taking the law into their hands and that no criminal raj would be allowed in south Tamil Nadu. These incidents had also drawn political attention with ADMK leader O Panneerselvam urged Chief Minister MK Stalin to take necessary steps to preserve peace and harmony in south Tamil Nadu and not to allow killings and counter killings to happen in the area. PTI has quoted the sources saying that a particular community had raised nearly Rs 3 crore to fight the criminal cases filed against the people belong to its caste.

The community has also been planning to rope in top lawyers to take up the cases against the men of its caste who had committed the crime. As the caste-based killing has been getting rampant across the state, Tamil Nadu Police had unfolded a mega operation for 48 hours. It was launched on Thursday night in the order of Tamil Nadu Police DGP Sylendra Babu. So far, the police had arrested thousands of rowdies and seized a pile of weapons from them and this operation was unfolded with the motive of bringing down the crime rates. As southern Tamil Nadu is facing heat, DGP Sylendra Babu had on Saturday convened a meet in Madurai with all the senior police officers of the southern districts during which he reviewed the situation and passed orders to enhance the security mechanism to curb such caste-related hostilities and killings.