All 3 suspects in 2016 Tamil Nadu caste killing are now free | India News


CHENNAI: Four years and a quarter after the caste killing of Dalit youth Shankar in Udumalpet in Tamil Nadu, the first-accused Chinnaswamy escaped the noose when the Madras high court acquitted him of all charges on Monday.
He was among six men facing death penalty for Shankar’s murder and the near-fatal injuries suffered by his 19-yearold daughter Kaushalya. In its 311-page judgment, the HC also refused to overturn the trial court’s order acquitting Chinnaswamy’s wife Annalakshmi and brother-inlaw Pandithurai. With this, all three main suspects — Kaushalya’s parents and maternal uncle — are free now.
The division bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice M Nirmal Kumar also commuted the death penalty of five others into life imprisonment, but made it clear they have to serve a minimum of 25 years of imprisonment without any benefit of early release. A dissatisfied Kaushalya said she would take the case to the Supreme Court on appeal, and that she would not rest till her parents — Chinnaswamy and Annalakshmi — were punished.
“If they were not party to the murder, Shankar would have been alive,” she told reporters minutes after the verdict. Shankar and Kausalya got to know each other while they were studying in a private engineering college in Pollachi, and married against the wishes of her parents. On March 13, 2016, a gang hacked the couple in broad daylight at Udumalpet in Tirupur district. While Shankar suffered 32 cuts and died, Kausalya survived the attack.
The HC said the prosecution failed to provide the chain of circumstances linking Chinnaswamy’s connection to the actual assailants, and pointed out that its theories, including claims that he had made arrangements for their stay, that he withdrew money from an ATM to pay the assailants and that he met some of them at a party to discuss the murder plan were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.



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