Many of us live in societies where we are free to choose the person we marry, regardless of social class and ethnicity. However, what if the society in which you lived was built around a hierarchy whereby sexual relations between classes was taboo? What would you do if you fell passionately in love with someone from a different social class?

This is a problem that confronted one unfortunate couple living under India’s caste system. According to latest reports from India’s media, the body of a 19-year-old man was recently discovered by the side of the railway line in Tamil Nadu. The man’s name was Ilavarasan, and under the Indian caste system, belonged to the lower class referred to as “untouchables”. It is believed that he fell in love with a 22-year-old woman from the upper classes, however was forced to separate from her in May due to the fierce opposition.

Ilavarasan, despite the vehement protests, went ahead and married the woman, who was from the “Kshatriya” higher social ranking, in October, 2012. It is reported that due to the overwhelming pressure from those around them, the woman was eventually forced to separate from the man and seek refuge at her mother’s house in May this year. She also swore to the media that she would never return to her partner. The man’s body was found the day after this comment was made, and many are claiming that he was murdered by activists of the caste system.

Professor Abhijit Mitra from Calcutta University commented,

“In order to maintain its supremacy, the upper class of the caste system will do whatever it feels necessary.”

The family of the dead man is pushing for the incident to be treated as murder. Marriage between different classes is still frowned upon by many in Indian society, and the union of the couple was met with considerable protests and violence. Even more saddening is that the father of the widowed woman was so overwhelmed by the fierce social opposition that he committed suicide. In addition, several villages of the lower, “untouchable” classes were targets of arson.

It came to light that a suicide letter addressed to the woman was also discovered a week after police found the young man’s body. It was confirmed that the handwriting matched that of Ilavarasan’s and a friend even suggested that the man hinted at suicide. While the incident is being treated as a suicide attempt, the man’s father continues to assert that there is something suspicious about the incident. He commented that he intended to take it to court.

This is undoubtedly a tragic incident which demonstrates the strength of the divide in hierarchy within the caste system and I’m sure many of us can’t help but feel moved by the couple’s unfortunate plight. We here at RocketNews24 sincerely hope that things improve so that this type of incident becomes a thing of the past.

Source: NicoNico News
Header image: blog.foreignpolicy