In broad daylight, on September 14, Pranay Perumalla Kumar, a Dalit from Miryalaguda in Telangana was murdered. He was 24 years old.
This gruesome murder was committed because Pranay dared to marry Amrutha Varshini, who belongs to the Vaishya community, a forward caste.
21-year-old Amrutha is devastated at what has happened and blames her father and uncle for masterminding this attack. Even in her grief, she has taken it upon herself to get justice for Pranay’s death.
The attack and murder have been caught on camera, and the clip has even gone viral, with many shares and re-tweets. What’s worse is it took place just as Amrutha and Pranay were returning after a visit to the gynaecologist. Amrutha is five months pregnant.
We are in the 21st century, and yet stories like these regularly make it to the headlines of newspapers.
As per the latest crime data by the National Crime Record Bureau Statistics, honour killing in the country has grown by more than 79% from 2014 to 2015. Despite banning caste-based discrimination in 1955, these incidents have not ceased to exist.
Here are five individuals/organisations fighting to ensure that casteism is completely eradicated in the country:
1. Love Commandos – Sanjoy Sachdev
At 18, one has the right to vote, drink, drive, and be seen as an adult in the eyes of the law. However, making the decision to get married to someone is still controlled by various factors which include caste. Fighting this practice is an organisation called Love Commandos.
Formed by a group of like-minded individuals in 2010, Love Commandos has helped more than 40,000 couples.
Read more about this story here.
2. Kadhal Aran – an app fighting discrimination
According to a report, 187 honour killings took place in Tamil Nadu between 2013 and 2017.
In an attempt to change these statistics, Vasumathi Vasanthi, a techie, developed an app called Kadhal Aran.
‘Kadhal Aran’, which means ‘protector of love’, can be downloaded and used in cases where a couple in love feels threatened. Run by volunteers who monitor all the messages on the app, legal help, police protection, or even help in getting to a safe place are organised for the couple.
Read more about this story here.
3. The All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch – Vimal Thorat
Led by the ingenuity and creativity of Dalit women, many of whom are survivors of violence, this movement is challenging gender-based violence, which is often rooted in caste. This new generation of human rights defenders has given a voice to women in rural and urban spheres to frame their narratives of resistance and share the stories of their struggles.
The group travels not just to various parts of India but has also toured North America recently to break the silence on caste apartheid. #DalitWomenFight was created towards the end of 2013 to galvanise the youth and use social media to have these discussions.
For more information about this movement, visit their website here.
4. Kausalya – a lone warrior
In yet another story that will leave you cringing, Kausalya’s husband, Shankar, was murdered in Udumalpet in Tiruppur district of western Tamil Nadu. The murder was caught on camera, and a million viewers watched it. Kausalya herself was severely injured during the struggle that ensued.
The goons who committed this heinous act were hired by Kausalya’s parents and maternal uncle because she married Shankar, a boy from a lower caste, much against the wishes of her family. Having spent a year grieving, she emerged stronger and in 2017, started work as a clerk in the Ministry of Defence.
She now lends her voice and support to various Dalit movements and is a strong supporter of inter-caste marriages.
5. Behenchara – a volunteer group
Imagine living in a community that has its own smaller groups based on caste. One such village was Sadri where the caste system was given far too much importance.
Behenchara consists of a group of volunteers who try and bridge these gaps in various villages through dialogue. In a successful experiment, they managed to get the women from upper caste Brahmins and the lower caste together. When they came together, the women realised how similar their issues were, and that caste had no role to play.
Read more about this organisation here.
Amrutha, Pranay’s wife has started a Facebook page, which is called Justice For Pranay.
In a report published by The News Minute, Amrutha says, “I will fight till the end to get justice for Pranay. He always said that caste differences among people should end and casteism should go. There should never be a situation where a person faces difficulties because of their caste. That is what I will fight for now.”
These are just the names of a few organisations/individuals working to change the mindset of society. We need many more to join hands to make this possible.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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