This article is a translation and transcription of a special phone-in program called ‘Love that ended in death’ (‘maranathil mudintha kathal’) featuring the VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan which was hosted by Thanthi TV on 11/7/13. The TV anchor Mr Pandey led the discussion and facilitated questions from viewers.
We have with us Thol Thirumavalavan of VCK to discuss and take questions on this topic.
Pandey: The affairs related to the death of Ilavarasan have taken a lot of twists and turns. This death happened on July 4th, everyone has a doubt, and clarity is not emerging as they look for answers to the question: is this death a murder or a suicide?
To say it is a suicide, in this case, there are a lot of circumstantial situations such as – being in love and dealing with separation, a young man may commit suicide, but the instances that preceded the death makes us wonder if this could have been a murder. In your view, this death is the result of situations leading to suicide or murder?
Thiruma: More than my view, we have to consider what Ilavarasan’s parents have to say on this. His father, his mother – both of them have categorically stated that ‘there is no chance of my child committing suicide. He was extremely confident, was very strong and he was encouraging us to be strong’ they have said. We cannot ignore or set aside the emotions of his father and mother who are seriously impacted by this incident. The government, police and the court must see it in this view, this is my plea. My personal view, based on my ground experience of forensic science, I too feel, it is not possible that he committed suicide. I can furnish some reasons for this. When I met him on June 6th, he was courageous, the clarity and confidence Ilavarasan possessed on that day, gave me confidence.
Pandey: Where did this meeting take place?
Thiruma: In Chennai, when we met for the first time. He was accompanied by a renowned journalist. He had said to us then, ‘Divya will come back to me, no matter how many years pass. She might have told something (contrary) because of the pressure or is forced by someone else, but I am not worried about that.’ He was confident that she would come back to him some day. If we watch closely Divya’s interviews from the beginning, she was also very clear and confident about her life and future with Ilavarasan.
Pandey: Let’s talk with Parthasarathy from Salem on call.
Parthasarathy: Public says that VCK is doing politics on the death of Ilavarasan. Please explain to us the exact reasons why VCK is taking such a huge role in investigating Ilavarasan’s death. Please explain that it is not politics but for the people.
Thiruma: This is an atrocity created by the act of political intrusion. This is not carried out for caste reasons alone, but caste and political reasons have combined to produce social torture (on the couple). Both of them loved each other and decided to live their life together. When they have their rights to look out for their own lives, in the name of caste some political parties, in order to further their self-interest, have intruded (into their private life) and blown this out of proportion. That is why Ilavarasan and Divya separated, or rather were forced to separate, and today, we have a situation where Ilavarasan’s life is gone. Divya’s father Nagarajan’s life was also sacrificed under these circumstances. Ilavarasan’s death, Divya’s father Nagarajan’s death, Divya’s abandoned life and the burning of dalit homes… for all this, caste combined with politics is the culprit. Those who have made these moves for the benefit of their own political ambitions are wholly responsible for these deaths and tragedies.
Prank call from Seethalaxmi (viewer).
Pandey: When you were speaking about your conversation with Ilavarasan, you said that he was very confident about Divya, that she will come back to him one day for sure.
Thiruma: Divya’s statement after she went missing and appeared in the court of Dharmapuri, was: ‘Ilavarasan is my spouse, whom I chose of my own free will and it is my own decision, and I would like to live with him.’ Given this, there is no reason for habeas corpus writ. Habeas corpus is valid only if the victim is missing.
Pandey: Divya stated this after the habeas corpus petition.
Thiruma: No, she told this before the habeas corpus petition. She told this in Dharmapuri itself. She told the same to the DIG Sanjeev Kumar also. Then, where they are living is not necessary. Although Ilavarasan is younger than Divya as per the certificates, his parents say that he is fully fit to marry her. We are not going into that now. Even after the habeas corpus petition, they were taking pendente lite on March 19, March 27, April 3 and April 26. In all these four pendente lite (awards), Divya was proclaiming in front of the judges at the court, that she chose Ilavarasan of her own free will and it was her own decision. No one had pressurized or forced her – her mother was wrong, and outsiders were using caste to shatter her life. A habeas corpus writ petition is filed for a person who is missing and to locate that person. But Divya appeared in the court, so if the person has appeared, then the case has to be closed, and it was closed.
But after that, caste parties started saying that the marriage is not legal, that it is a child marriage, without any need, they changed the direction of the case. But it is not clear how the high court has allowed that. This is a very big blunder, a mistake; this is where the problem starts. So why did the court postpone the case to March 19, March 27, April 3, and April 26? As the doubts were raised against the court judges, the lawyers started shouting, so the investigation was transferred to different lawyers. By June 4th they had taken Divya away from Ilavarasan through mischievous plans and dramas. For this they have used Thenmozhi, Divya’s mother. Thenmozhi and her daughter (Divya’s elder sister) talked to Ilavarasan and Divya daily on the phone, they had developed trust in them, which made Ilavarasan and Divya visit their home often at Dharmapuri.
Thiruma: Once Ilavarasan had dropped Divya’s mother Thenmozhi at the railway station on his own motor vehicle. And one day, Thenmozhi said she wanted to talk personally with them. They replied that she was always welcome, but instead she asked them to meet at a particular place; when asked further about it, she mentioned the name of a PMK MP’s place. This immediately alerted Divya and Ilavarasan that something was afoot, and they did not go.
Pandey: So you are saying, they had planned to create a show of some relationship to make them fall for the plan.
Thiruma: Not exactly, actually Ilavarasan and Divya became alert after speaking to her mother Thenmozhi. They predicted that this is going somewhere else. They were close to the mother, after Thenmozhi lost Nagarajan (Divya’s father) in this issue, but now it seemed like it was not mother’s love that was speaking but something else. So they didn’t go on that day.
Pandey: Let’s talk to Kalaiarasan from Madurai.
Kalaiarasan: Marriage age for men is 21 and for women, it is 18. But Ilavarasan was married to Divya at the age of nineteen itself. Who allowed them to marry? How did the police allow them to marry? Please explain.
Thiruma: Divya attained her age of marriage, but Ilavarasan was younger (than the required age) to get married, as per the certificate. This is what sources say. That doesn’t mean they should not live together. They can marry after Ilavarasan attains his marriageable age.
Pandey: This is not legal it seems.
Thiruma: You can say that this marriage is not legal as per the law. In Tamil Nadu, Indian women are getting married at the age of 15, 16 itself. It is happening regularly. Nobody is getting married legally even in these days. There are so many marriages being held with the blessing of political leaders. But as this issue is becoming (politically) serious, the age issue has been raised. Yes, so Ilavarasan can be sent to the vigilance room (juvenile home?). He is younger than the legal marriageable age, she had attained her age for marriage. Until then she can be in her father-in-law’s house. Why should she be separated from Ilavarasan? Court cannot prove that the marriage is invalid. Is the truth furnished by Kalaiarasan not known to DIG Sanjeev Kumar, Criminal Judge and the High Court? Why did they not declare that as illegal? As he has not attained the marriage age, they could have kept him in the vigilance room or they should have told them not to live together. When the court and justice are not willing or ready to separate them, why did the political parties intervene? The court has never said that it is an illegal marriage.
Pandey: Let’s talk to Chezhian, Tiruchendur.
Chezhian: We are very sorry for the murder of the Ilavarasan.
Pandey: Sorry for the interruption, you cannot conclude that this is a murder, only a mysterious death.
Chezhian: Ok, we are very sorry for the mysterious death. What should we (VCK) do? Our leader Thiruma has to tell us what to do.
Thiruma: We have arranged for protests in all the districts of Tamil Nadu on 10th July and 11th July. But TN Govt has banned them at all places, (saying) that VCK is not to conduct any protests. There is a protest to be held on Chennai today, but that was also banned.
Pandey: When such protests happen, doesn’t it excite the emotions among the public?
Thiruma: If we are impacted by such shocking incidents, don’t we have to express our emotions and voices? Why don’t we protest to raise the plea against the death and the hidden truth? When his parents themselves stated that Ilavarasan’s death has hidden secrets, why shouldn’t we protest?
Pandey: Police is investigating, court is investigating and TN government has ordered a special investigation headed by a high court judge. Then why do you protest?
Thiruma: Govt has announced all these only after we protested. They have announced one person commission kind of thing for that. It is because the police investigation has lost our trust that we have taken it to the court.
Pandey: We cannot say that. This investigation was (ordered) after your plea only.
Thiruma: No, our plea was – we don’t have trust in the police investigation, so we are making a plea for high court investigation. But we don’t know the details behind how the government made the announcement for investigation. But the government has announced this only after our demand. We felt consoled by this after our plea.
Pandey: Let’s talk to Arputham, from Trichy.
Arputham: As we expected, that something wrong would happen to them, the death of Ilavarasan has happened. Why didn’t we give them enough security and protection to save them?
Thiruma: The government should be held responsible for this. Couples in inter-caste marriages who face threats and do not have protection need the government to step in, to provide protection and keep them in a safe place. The government should have given them protection, but they have ignored this very easily, who should take the responsibility? It is the government.
Pandey: Why didn’t the parties and movements like yours who knew that very well not offer any safety measures to them?
Thiruma: We cannot give them full safety and security. We have advised them to stay safe, when we met them, but how can we provide security, only the government can do that. As a big issue has developed because of the couple’s (inter-caste) marriage, there is a chance that they might be killed in the name of honour killing. There are a lot of honour killings happening in Tamil Nadu. To stop honour killings, I have arranged for a protest on July 17 again on Chennai. We have to salute (Ilavarasan), and protest against honour killings in a peaceful way everywhere. We have to demand that Tamil Nadu has to make a law against honour killings; this is the demand on which protests have to be conducted. In my view, this is an honour killing, circumstances (created) in the name of honour led to this death.
To be continued.
Balaji Lakshmipathi@Moses is an IT professional working in Mumbai and hails from Mayiladuthurai. He is associated with dalit christian activism.