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‘After falling in love, I saw the reality of caste’: E. Ilavarasan

July 5, 2013

Dalit youth E. ILAVARASAN, whose marriage to a Vanniyar girl had resulted in caste violence in Tamil Nadu last year, was found dead on a railway track yesterday. Given below is an interview Ilavarasan gave to KAVIN MALAR and was published in the Tamil edition of India Today magazine. This translation is by PRAKASH VENKATESAN.


Did you realise you were going to be in the headlines in TN when you got married?

No. Certainly not. I thought ours would be just like any other marriage. Divya thought so too. We thought they (Divya’s parents) would be angry initially but can be eventually reconciled. We simply did not expect these things would happen. I now can really understand the horrendous nature of caste and the heinous things it is capable of after falling in love.

Why do you think Divya is suddenly saying now that she wants to go with her mother?

Someone is operating behind the scenes. They have threatened that her mother’s life and mine would be in danger if Divya does not return back. Probably that is why she has taken such a decision. She can’t live without me. She won’t be able to take this three weeks separation. She used to tell me often that she can’t live without me even for an hour. The plan to separate us was plotted in PMK’s head office. Now they have executed it.

Did you and Divya had any problems after your marriage?

No. We were happy. Though we were running from place to place in fear, we were quite happy to be together.

When did the marriage happen?

I was on my way to Trichy for a football match. When I was in Omalur, I got a call from Divya saying that people in her house are trying to get her married to someone else. She asked me to take her with me. We went to Andhra Pradesh and got married there.

How is the relationship between you and Divya’s parents?

Ilavarasan found dead on railway tracks yesterday.Photo by N Bashkaran / The Hindu

Ilavarasan found dead on railway tracks yesterday.Photo by N Bashkaran / The Hindu

Divya’s father was a good person. He was indifferent to caste. We still don’t believe he committed suicide because of our marriage. Divya’s mother, she was not that opposing either. After our marriage her brothers are not talking to her. But people around her are instigating her. They knew that I was going to get an appointment order to join the police force and filed a case against me and deliberately made efforts against it to get the order cancelled. These were not done by her mother. She is being compelled by people of her caste to do these deeds

How did you feel when three Dalit villages were burnt in Dharmapuri?

Guilty. We even thought about committing suicide. Not even in our dreams we thought her father would commit suicide. She was deeply affected by her father’s death. She cried a lot.

We can not forget that November 7th. People from her side said they want to meet Divya and take her back with them. I told them it is certainly possible to talk. In November 7th, a meeting was arranged between both the sides in Thoppur. Her father was not present there. Divya’s mother asked her to return back but Divya firmly refused. Half an hour after the meeting we got the news of her father’s suicide and villages being burnt. We saw it in TV. The caste in which I was born into is their problem. People who are capable of doing these deeds can go to any extent.

What are you going to do to get Divya back?

I will keep on fighting. Authorities know who burnt three villages. But they have not taken any action. They have to. They have to publicly announce where Divya is. They have to investigate and publicly announce about the people who are directly and indirectly trying to separate us. The decision to be separated would not have been from her heart. I want to talk with Divya first. After that, am quite certain everything would be okay.

57 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2013 9:09 PM

    Dear Ilavarasan, may your soul Rest in Peace. I wish you had seen the truth of caste before falling in love. Possibly you might have lived !!

    • Beryl Williams permalink
      July 6, 2013 9:37 PM

      Yes, maybe he could have avoided death if he’d been more worldly wise and alert to the evil of caste. But his death, now that it has happened, must not be in vain. People must not let him be forgotten, and continue to raise awareness of this evil and educate their young people to denounce castism wherever it is found.

  2. Ravichandran Chakkiliyan permalink
    July 5, 2013 9:24 PM
    Now a serious question i want to ask all people who are opposing and remorsing the death of Illavarasan (paraiyar). I strongly condemn such act. However, i want to ask all especially Paraiyar chauvinist, where were you all when Your own community killed your own girl, Gokila for marrying an Arunthahtiyar boy. Many writes in tamil Nadu, where were you, if a so-called dalit kill their girl for honor killing, it doesnt mean caste, but in Illavarasan’s case all of you would say its a caste killing. Isnt this caste biased, and why all of you kept silent then. does that mean Arunthahiyars dont fit even for discussion.
    How much different Paraiyars are, comparing with caste hindus, You are worst than caste Hindus. sincerly if all of you support inter-caste marriage then come forward and say we will not oppose or atleast we would support paraiyar girls marrying arunthathiyars.

    paraiyars are those who beat drum
    Arunthahtiyars are leather workers, who are also sweepers/scavengers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka.
    In Tamil Nadu there are so many places, where there are untouchability between dalit castes, and since arunthathiyar’s are sweepers/scavengers, they are even more treated badly by the dalit castes, Paraiyar and Pallars.

    My entire point here, is to ask, if people say its a caste violence, then why they are not seeing gokila’s murder as caste murder. Sadly arunthathiyar’s issue never get into any debates.

    • andrews permalink
      July 6, 2013 11:56 PM

      All such incidents needs to condemned whether BC opposing SC and SC opposing SC(A).

    • Rafal permalink
      July 7, 2013 1:34 AM

      Please watch your words. Even though drawing the attention to other incidents of honour killing has a connection with the subject, your statement “You are worst than caste Hindus” is not only not relevant to the discussion, but also indicative of your racist bias.

      • ravichandran chakkiliyan permalink
        July 10, 2013 12:09 PM

        Rafal, “you are worst than caste Hindus”, at this movement i would like to bring your attention to Kallakuruchi incident.

        7 years before near Kallakurichi (tamil Nadu), a brutal murder and a rape was reported. The issue doesnot take a place in dalit literature, or even in dalit discourse. Near kallakurichi, there is a village where only two arunthathiyar family were living, others were paraiyar dalits. Kalachuri falls in the northern district of tamil Nadu and its a strong hold for paraiyar politics.
        These paraiyars had land and were dominant atleast over arunthathiyars.
        The untouchability practice between paraiyar and arunthathiyar in these villages are the same. worst part is arunthathiyars firstly cant oppose paraiyars and survive in the village, and secondly the SC/ST Act doesnot include atrocities between two different dalit castes.

        In such a background, one paraiyar guy falls in love with an arunthathiyar girl and elopes. The paraiyar community gathered together and wanted to separate, However they failed as the paraiyar was a boy, they could not force him. At this movement there were hatred spread on arunthathiyar women especially, thinking she is the cause of it, and largely the community.

        The second incident happened, After some months an arunthathiyar guy elopes with a pariyar women and goes to thambaram to live. All the pariyars in village went to the place, however the women in thambaran area got mobilzed and sent the paraiyars back to kallakurichi. returned with dejected these pariyars at night broke the door of arunthathiyar house with the help of bullacart, where two female and a male was there. In this action there were 10 people among them 7 are from Thol. thirumavalavan’s party caders. In the house there were two women among them one was pregnant women and the other one very young women. They guy was beaten severely. The pariyars kicked the pregrent women and she got aborted and they tried to rape the other women but she escaped however they bit her face and other places, as a result it was solen double the size of her real face. This issue was taken by various people but Thol. Thirumavalavan opposed vehemently.
        You may not find this discourse anyway in so-called dalit literature in Tamil Nadu.

      • abhay permalink
        January 5, 2014 8:06 AM

        Absolutely agree.

  3. ajai p mangattu permalink
    July 5, 2013 10:27 PM

    Our democracy has already absorbed the values of caste system, so our system is in essence follows the caste system. It is a terrible truth that caste survives the onslaught of open market and capitalism. Capitalism destroyed most of the preindustrial social and cultural institution except caste and family. People thought democracy to bring another revolution in system. no. no. that won’t happen. Democracy promised a lot but we now understand it was carried on the back of caste system. Even the Semitic religions have survived just because they accepted the values of caste system

  4. Lars Dahlstrom permalink
    July 5, 2013 11:55 PM

    Well, I’m not totally aware of the practical consequences of the Indian cast system but in principle it seems to be working more or less as the apartheid system in Southern Africa that is about to kill Nelson Mandela this very day, due to his Robben Island experiences of cutting stones for 28 years….

  5. prats permalink
    July 6, 2013 12:55 AM

    its heart touching that even in this age such caste thing is being played to effect horrendous crimes.. shame on such people who in the name of caste took an innocent life.. and the authorities are tight-lipped because their babus wont let them work? shame on the babus as well. god please dont forgive them

  6. Arivuselvam permalink
    July 6, 2013 10:49 AM

    1. No reservation quota based on community and there should be educational reservations based on poverty position of students
    2. If a couple above the age of 18 fall in love they are to be given full freedom for doing so and they need not be answerable to any third party other than their parents
    3. Parents should be in the mindset that their children have the right to choose their life partner since its their life and they are gonna live them for another fifty years. Hence parents should not be overprotective , instead they must trust their son or daughter and have a mindset that whatever happens after their children’s marriage they will take care of it .
    4.only if intercaste n inter religious marriages are given full cooperation by parents and relatives , selection of would be’s with good moral values and humanity could be enabled in the best sense. It’s because when parents try to search for a bride/ groom within a short circle made of his caste/ religion there are more chances of bumping into crooke minded individuals
    5. Love and marriage alone doesn’t mean life , they are only a part of life . This line has to be understood well by teenagers and youths of india, they are the building blocks of future indian economy.if only they are aware of this they can work and shine in their respective fields and realize that suicide is not the solution to any problem

    Lets join hands to make a better india. If there’s anything wrong in my comment I apologies for the same

    • July 6, 2013 1:48 PM

      “1. No reservation quota based on community and there should be educational reservations based on poverty position of students”

      If you think the aim of reservations is to eradicate poverty or economic betterment, then you have not understood what reservations are for, rather just fallen for the upper caste intolerance towards it. Seeing that this figured topmost in your list shows the level of acceptance this has generated, which is even more dangerous.

      Reservations has nothing to do with the economic state of the out castes. It is about bringing these to the rungs of power, which alone can torpedo the caste injustices, and this is which the Brahmanical order fears the most, because reservation strikes at its very root.

      • ajay permalink
        July 6, 2013 7:09 PM

        @nalanz Sadly most beneficiaries of reservation don’t understand that it perpetuates the divide as the beneficiaries themselves claim to be backward because of their caste and system certifies it. If it is for power than, reservation should be limited to ensuring representation in parliament and state legislature. It must not become a tool to breed incompetence in specialty courses and jobs. If you are a genuine supporter of reservation, then file a PIL to introduce the concept of creamy layer in SC/STs so that the bebefit reaches genuine beneficiaries. Why should a ward of first class officer get the benefit of reservation over a ward of 4th class general category employee?
        Also reservation system should merely provide for the perceived handicap in the form of resonable grace marks, etc and must not act as freebies for persons who simply won’t and don’t need to work hard as they are assured of admissions in premier colleges and get jobs even after scoring as low as 5-10% marks. Just think over it rather than being defensive whenever someone tries to think differently.

        • July 7, 2013 2:24 PM

          A boy has lost his life for daring to marry above his caste and what are we debating here? Reservations! Sick, you guys are sick.

          • July 8, 2013 7:58 PM

            hahaha! this is nothing.after sometime they will even say that equality must prevail but ‘bcz dalits are dalits so they must behave like dalits’ and i could never figure-out what d hell is this ‘dalit-like-behavior’?all d religions are neck-deep in reminds me of Elbert Bill.oops!i ,perhaps, behaved against my prescribed-behavior!i m warned–“because India believes in right-to-freedom, so i have freedom:to write-‘nothing’, to write a thing meaning ‘nothing’, or to write an obituary first.

        • July 7, 2013 2:26 PM

          The Vanniyar problem with this guy was not that he was a beneficiary of reservations but that he was Dalit. Do you understand that? They thought it was not ok for an ‘untouchable’ boy to marry a Vanniyar girl. Shame on you for diverting the issue to reservations.

        • Siddhu permalink
          September 21, 2013 4:52 AM

          @Ajay : I agree with ur noble intention of upbringing economically poor SC/STs (the caste that u care very much about) by introducing creamy layer into SC/STs. Why don’t u fight for reservation for forward caste poor, who are nowadays poorer than most castes. The best part about OBCs creamy layer is that it was introduced for economically backward sect of people to come up, ok let’s see the non-creamy layer eligibility (1)a person, whose parent is a group 2 direct recruit n does not get a promotion to group 1 before 40 years of age, is eligible for reservation – what? an inspector grade officer can’t afford for his child’s education, lol, whom are u cheating hahaha, next (2) a person, whose parent earns less than 6 lakhs per annum, is eligible – 6lakhs is the highest paid package in my college placements n yes it comes under level 3 taxation, but this person is not capable of affording his child’s education fee, Creamy layer really sounds like fun, if it is of this much relaxation pls bring it on to SC/STs too, there wont be an abrupt change. If u genuinely care about abolishing reservation, abolish caste first, the true motive of reservation was to erase caste n to be abolished if such thing happened (which never happened till now), not to further extend it to other sects like what Mandal Commission did…

    • janu permalink
      July 7, 2013 2:13 PM

      ur statement 1 is wrong…. very notional view

  7. July 6, 2013 11:43 AM

    after seeing this kind of incidenct.all should pls leave the violence of caste in future.parents before committing suicide think your daughter and family future.bcoz of his father death only make all such incidents (divya refused ilavarasan).when your daughter refused your words and married someone means, whether even you cannot accept means but dont do this kind of mistakes ,

  8. July 7, 2013 12:15 PM

    Dalits are Adi Dravidars and not paraiyars…paraiyar is a word coming from Sanskrit or Hindi word paraya means untouchable…so the word should never be used for Adi Dravidars….I call all those use this word for Adi Dravidar as fools and they should stop using such a word.

    • rasu Padaiyatchiyar permalink
      July 8, 2013 9:55 AM

      Yes Fr.You are right.

    • Rafal permalink
      July 10, 2013 2:49 AM

      “Paraiyar” is actually a genuinely Tamil word. Not so in the case of “Adi Dravidar” or “Dalit”, of which first one is heavily sanskritized, and the second one fully Sanskrit.

  9. Ajay permalink
    July 7, 2013 1:58 PM

    what is the problem of others if two people want to get married? Their marriage brings shame to their community but murder, riots and destruction does not. Fools.

    Everyone should unite against these caste people, next time a member of your family or friend brings up anything about caste teach them a lesson. Everyone should do something on their part to get rid of this caste problem.

  10. rasu padaiyatchiyar permalink
    July 7, 2013 4:32 PM

    no one is talking about the suicide of divya’s father who has been forced to take such a worst decision by a dalith caste government official

  11. July 8, 2013 1:25 PM

    If Jiah Khan’s suicide can lead to such extensive investigation, why not in the case of this girl’s father? Do the police not see any possibility of ‘abetment of suicide’ here, as they did in the case of the bollywood boyfriend? Even with villages aflame, and this poor boy dead just a few days later? Case closed?

  12. July 8, 2013 4:14 PM

    Getting rid of the caste system is easier said than done. Apart from those who have a vested interest in keeping the caste system alive and strong, quite a few among the common persons themselves believe in the caste system, and are willing to kill and/or die to defend it.

    Clearly, Divya and Ilavarasan were not aware that the caste system could not be shrugged away. They expected some opposition from Divya’s parents, but were totally unprepared for the reaction from all sides.

    Even if Divya and Ilavarasan had shifted to some other place after marriage, their immediate families would have had to face the backlash. If the immediate families had shifted, the extended families would have had to face the backlash.

  13. karpagam permalink
    July 8, 2013 6:42 PM

    stupid illiterate whoever speaks about caste, such a heinous act of murder should hang the people

  14. Joshini permalink
    July 8, 2013 8:04 PM

    Im very sorry for u Mr. Illavarassan for trusting a girl who cannot even realize ur true love … It would be still better if Mrs. Dhivya Ilavarassan would have died … for forsaking u .. A mature girl with unsteady mind .. But one thing all the people behind ur death will be punished soon .. “GOD IS THERE ALIVE WATCHING ALL THE PLAYS OF MAN” may ur soul rest in peace

  15. Deepak permalink
    July 8, 2013 9:48 PM

    i came to know about from todays the hindu’s edition but what an irony is this? u r showing news of E.ILAVARASNA but nothing is there in the hindu.i have stopped watching the soldout media but believed in THE HINDU but they have betrayed us too.

  16. Sri permalink
    July 9, 2013 12:13 AM

    It’s very sad to hear about the death. Everyone is calling vanniyar or any caste other than dalit as upper caste.How can one caste be called as upper or lower caste, is it based on money or any other? One man has divided the people of India into 4 parts and the stupid people are still following.

  17. keirra permalink
    July 9, 2013 7:51 PM

    its very sad to hear ilavarsna story.vanniyar community is a Most backword community.whats the level which determine the superiority of castes.vanniyars are also low casts like the dalits ,can any one tell them that.

    • Rafal permalink
      July 10, 2013 2:54 AM

      Yes, they are classified as “Most Backward Castes” and they are fully aware of that. But they also claim royal descent, drawing their genealogies back to Pallava times. I myself do not accept caste borders, being myself a kind of outcaste, but I don’t think telling Vanniyars they are “low casts like the Dalits” will have any beneficial effect…

      • rasu padaiyatchiyar permalink
        July 13, 2013 7:41 PM

        vanniars are kshathriyas by birth and rulled the tamil nadu.they belong to chola and pallava dynasty which is clearly mentioned in the madurai meenakshi amman temple inscriptions also they are the only cast having individual puranam in the Hindu’s vedham.(9th puranam).they almost lost all thier wealth due to ‘n’ number of battles to save tamil nadu.For an example,Pitchavaram chola zamindhars almost lost all thier wealth by the war against british.

    • rasu padaiyatchiyar permalink
      July 13, 2013 9:10 AM

      vanniyars are kings of Pallava and Chola dynasty.Pls go thru’ the tamil nadu temples inscriptions and tamilians history.They went for many wars and dedicated their lives for other caste peoples of tamilnadu.that is why they lost everything and ecconomically they are struggling today.

      • Shanmugasundaram permalink
        July 24, 2013 5:26 PM

        So? There is a saying in tamil which says that in every king’s geneology there might be a cobbler as ancestor and for every cobbler there might be a king as his ancestor. Whether you are acting as per your “royal” ancestry or are you acting like thugs is the question.
        BTW, Padaiyatchiyar is a degree earned by you????

      • September 22, 2013 10:55 PM

        Stop this non sense the Pandya and Chola are not vanniyar , what is mentioned in the inscriptions are not the same vanniyar caste of today. Please read history carefully.

        • rasu padaiyatchiyar permalink
          October 20, 2013 2:23 PM

          we are not pandyas.We are the descendants of Chola and pallavas.What is mentioned in the inscriptions are about the same pls read the history carefully.pls watch Jaya Tv ACCAMILLAI ACHAMILLAI program about chola vanniyars and Sun Tv nijam program and also read the KUMUDHAM- nan thamilan edition about vanniyars and go to Sirkali vaidheeshwaran temple inscriptions about vanniyars birth.

  18. sri permalink
    July 11, 2013 12:03 PM

    ilavarasan am really sad for u i pray for ur soul .

  19. priya permalink
    July 12, 2013 2:02 PM

    illavarasan i really feel sad i shead tears for you your love will continue in rebirth may your soul rest in peace

  20. karky permalink
    July 13, 2013 6:11 PM

    May your soul rest in peace brother

  21. Jyotsna permalink
    July 15, 2013 12:51 PM

    May your soul rest in peace…..& ur mind & heart stays with divya always….. it takes a heart to understand even in crisis her real situation & say that it has not come from her heart….you are a real MAN !
    The course of true love never runs smooth ………. True love never dies
    Wish & hope this love blossoms again & consumes this earth……..

    • Roselin Joseph permalink
      August 20, 2013 7:55 PM

      What’s wrong with u guys? Stop talking abt castism n try to look into humanitarian values. No wonder ppl outhere going other side of the world to live n earn. Until how libg u guys gonna talk abt it dividing ppl. We are The World. Gof created us to b united not to b divided. Shocked with Tamilnadu ppl. Stop discriminating ppl. Welcome everyone as one.

  22. KIEREN CHETTY permalink
    September 12, 2013 2:04 AM

    sickens me to be of indian origin…I cant be with a Rajput girl because of caste non sense…what about falling in love like god planned for us all…sad story here RIP

  23. goingtoDie permalink
    November 1, 2013 12:23 AM

    same problem for me also.. I am also facing this issue. I hate caste.. One day my body also in road side or railway platform side. Is there any act

    • January 27, 2014 3:56 PM

      Thanks for sharing this sorrowful post. actually inter cast marriage problems is very big issues in India. parents can`t understate their children love. their parents do not agree to love marriage and in the end lovers caught the way of suicide.this is not a solution. I think lovers should understand that suicide is not a solution for love marriage.

      • dheeraj permalink
        February 18, 2014 3:19 AM

        jb castism ke karan jindgi maut se bdter or dhrti narak se gi gujri lagti h to sucide krte hn ase log

  24. aswathi permalink
    February 9, 2014 10:13 AM

    TRUE LOVE……………………………

  25. November 11, 2014 12:48 AM

    Unfortunately it happened in my village…..

  26. November 11, 2014 2:55 AM

    i still doubt if its really a suicide or a murder but it should have not happened….:-(


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