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Students and civil society groups condemn Nagaraju murder, warn against vested interests

The Dalit Students Union (DSU), in its brief condolence statement, said that it is the Dalits who are becoming victims irrespective of perpetrators.

Telangana for Peace and Unity (TPU), a collective platform of individuals representing different civil society groups has condemned the brutal murder of Billipuram Nagaraju (26) in Hyderabad. Nagaraju, a Dalit man who belonged to the Mala community (Scheduled Caste community), was beaten and stabbed to death in full public view in the city over his marriage from him to a Muslim woman Syed Ashrin Sultana.

The incident took place on May 4 around 9 pm. Visuals of the murder have drawn heavy outrage across sections of society seeking stern action against the accused. The police have arrested two men- Syed Mobin Ahmed, Sultana’s brother, and Mohammed Masood Ahmed. A case of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The couple got married in January this year in Hyderabad’s Arya Samaj. Condemning the murder and demanding strict legal action against the accused, the collective appealed for communal amity. The statement released by TPU said, “TPU conveys our deepest condolences to the natal family of the deceased as well as to his partner Syed Ashrin Sultana, who has been put through enormous suffering.”

Read: Nagaraju murder: Videos show wife Sultana trying to stop her brother from attack

TPU has also stated that the state has been witnessing a steady rise in the number of killings of Dalit men who marry outside their caste or religion. TPU said “Consenting adults have a constitutional right to enter into relationships, regardless of caste or religion. However, families of the bride in multiple cases have and even killed the groom who hails from a marginalized caste, often a Dalit community. This is a gross violation of both the right to life and liberty of the person / s from the oppressed caste as well as serious gendered violence on the woman exercising her free will to marry a person of her choice de ella.

In the backdrop of a section of groups trying to whip up communal passion, the TPU has warned “vested interests” to not use this unfortunate incident to pursue their communal agendas. The TPU statement, which was endorsed by as many as 34 prominent people from diverse faiths and streams of activism said, “with a strong commitment to preserving communal harmony in Telangana appeals to all sections to maintain peace and co-operate with the law enforcement agencies in holding the perpetrators accountable.”

University of Hyderabad-based Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) and Dalit Students Union (DSU) have also expressed their solidarity with the family of Nagaraju and stated that they are committed towards consolidating anti-caste struggles.

In a detailed statement, ASA said “We would like to remind them (Hindutva forces) of their silence over ending cases of caste killings by caste Hindus. In 2018, Maruthi Rao had allegedly ordered the killing of Pranay because his daughter Amrutha married a Dalit against his wish. The caste Hindus rallied in support of the killers. We need to remember that this is not a polarized Hindu-Muslim issue as it is often portrayed to be. This is a caste issue. Nagaraju was killed not because he was a Hindu but because he was a Dalit. This kind of reductive binary tries to unify the so-called Hindu fold against other religions while there is nothing called unified Hinduism.”

“We must remember what Babasaheb Ambedkar said, ‘Hinduism is not a religion, it is a conglomeration of castes,” the statement said. The ASA further said that the murder of Nagaraju is the latest in a series of caste killings that have taken place (Gokulraj, Pranay, Ilavarasan, and Shankar.) It pointed out that all these men had been killed allegedly by caste-Hindu families of their partners for marrying above their caste.

The DSU, in its brief condolence statement, said that it is the Dalits who are becoming victims irrespective of perpetrators. The students while demanding justice to the wife of deceased, said, “For how long this Dalit society should be victimized? On one hand by the dominant castes and on the other hand by the dominant religious chauvinism. Now the Manuvadam (caste system) is not just confined to the Hindu religion but established in all other religions with more strength.”

Stating that Nagaraju’s killing signifies the influence of the inhuman practice in the entire subcontinent, cutting across all religions and communities, the ASA said, “The practice of caste stands against the virtue of mankind and is an inhuman and cruel practice that has been eroding the fabric of Indian society. Hence, it is the duty of all democratic forces to unite against these chauvinist murders and other forms of atrocities.”

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