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Marriage story which triggered TN riots headed for unhappy ending :





The Indian Express
07.06.2013

Marriage story which triggered TN riots headed for unhappy ending :
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Gopu Mohan : Chennai, Fri Jun 07 2013, 04:45 hrs


Theirs was a wedding that rocked the state, caused her father to commit suicide, led to communal clashes, exposed the caste faultlines that politicians sought to exploit, and eventually put PMK leader S Ramadoss and his son behind bars. Now, after having their marriage and its aftermath discussed threadbare in public for the last seven months due to its political and communal effect, they are reported to be heading for a split.
E Ilavarasan, 20, is about two years younger to Divya Nagarajan, with whom he fell in love and married last October. That, however, was the least of their problems. He is a Dalit while she is a Vanniyar, an intermediary Hindu caste which considers itself superior to Dalits in the caste hierarchy.
As the wedding triggered tension between the two communities, the elders held a panchayat on November 7, where it was decided that Divya must return to her parents' home. But she chose to remain with her husband. That evening, unable to accept his daughter's decision, her father, G Nagaraj, killed himself.


His death triggered violent retribution against the Dalits in the area. Hundreds of men, Vanniyars and other castes, went on the rampage, setting ablaze and demolishing hundreds of houses in the Dalit colony of Natham, and two other smaller Dalit settlements, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti.
It did not end there. The tension spread to other parts of the state, largely due to the mobilisation of intermediary castes by the PMK, the party of the Vanniyars. The PMK cited the marriage as an example to begin a campaign against Dalits marrying into their community, which, they claimed, was a drama scripted by Dalit politicians, VCK in particular. An annual conference that it organised turned violent when PMK men attacked a Dalit colony at Marakkanam, en route to the conference venue.


The situation turned uglier when Ramadoss was arrested and put behind bars, with his son and former union minister Anbumani Ramadoss and others, leading to low-key but persistent violence across the state. Two people died and many were hurt when vehicles on highways became the easy target.
All the pressure seems to have taken a toll on the couple's relationship. Divya returned to her mother on June 2. 


Ilavarasan filed a complaint at the Dharmapuri town police station on Tuesday night, stating that Divya, who had gone home on being told her mother was unwell, had not returned.
Inspector S Sampath Kumar said Divya's cellphone was switched off, so a police team went to her mother's house in Sellankottai village, but found it locked. Relatives told the police that Divya and her mother, Thenmozhi, had gone to Chennai to appear before the Madras High Court in connection with a hearing on a habeas corpus petition Thenmozhi had filed earlier.


When Divya appeared before a division bench comprising Justices M Jaichandren and M M Sundresh today, the judges asked her who she wanted to be with. A teary-eyed Divya replied that her mother was ill and lonely after her father's death, and she herself was mentally-distressed and preferred to be with her mother for now.


Ilavarasan, who was also present in court, pleaded with her to return to him. But she remained silent. People close to her said the marriage was over.


Accepting her wish, the bench allowed her to go with her mother. Interestingly, both counsels requested the court to ensure protection of the women.


According to Divya's lawyer K Balu, the marriage was not registered as Ilavarasan was below 21 years. Legally, there is no relationship between the two, and thus a formal divorce is not necessary, he said. Balu, also the head of the PMK's legal wing, said his party has been highlighting this an example of the alleged fake marriages.


But Ilavarasan's lawyer, S Rajnikanth, presented a different version. He said Thenmozhi had reconciled with Divya and had visited the couple, even buying clothes for her daughter. On June 4, Divya received a call from Thenmozhi's elder sister, Kalaiselvi, informing her that her mother was unwell and admitted to a private hospital. When she reached there, the mother and daughter were threatened by PMK men, forcing Divya to take such a stand before the court today, he claimed.
"Divya appeared before a judicial magistrate on November 24 and said she was not under illegal confinement. Then on March 19 and 27, she appeared before a division bench, standing her ground that it was her personal choice. She even complained to the court that her marriage was being made into a political issue. But on April 3, the other side raised an allegation that one of the judges was being partial, after which it was posted before a different bench that heard the case today. How will someone who made such bold statements in an open court suddenly decide against the marriage?" he asked.


Rajnikanth claimed Ilavarasan was 22 years now, adding that there was an error in his records. Even otherwise, since Divya is a major, the marriage is voidable but not illegal, he said. "If one of them wishes, they can legally separate. But a third party cannot demand its annulment because there is no illegality," he argued.


Rajnikanth alleged that the women were taken to Ramadoss's residence in Tindivanam by a doctor and PMK functionaries. But PMK leaders denied this charge. The court has scheduled the next hearing for July 1.


Surrounded by lawyers, relatives, media and others, Divya was in tears when she left the court premises. Ilavarasan stood there, looking lost. Having completed his B.Sc. computer science course, he had cleared the recruitment test for police constable and had appeared for the medical examination. But that was before he decided to marry, a decision which snowballed into a political storm and reportedly cost him the job.


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