On March 19 2016, the body of K Chinnasamy was found floating in a well in his village, Nallampatty. Chinnasamy, 50, was a farm labourer and the regional secretary for the Dalit Freedom Party – an organisation that advocates for the rights of Dalits, a scheduled caste in India. He is survived by his wife C Subbulakshmi.
Over the previous weeks a conflict had flared up between Dalits and members of the Gounder caste. At a temple festival on March 10, Marappa Gounder is alleged to have denigrated a Dalit man – Krishnan – by using his caste name. When Krishnan retorted, Marappa whipped him with his belt before attempting to push him under a passing bus with the aid of his companions. Subsequently a complaint was filed against Marappa under the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act.
The Erode district authorities set up a peace committee to mediate the dispute between the two communities which Chinnasamay attended. The committee met on several occasions without making progress, at the final meeting Chinasamay stated that Marappa Gounder had been involved in similar incidents in the past. After the meeting he went to work as a farm labourer but was not seen again until his body was discovered in the well at 6:30pm the next day.
There were large protests after the killing from members of his community. However the human rights organisation HRD-Alert India reports that in retaliation a social boycott has been imposed on them. They are being denied agricultural work in the area and have also been excluded from public activities. A Sengottaiyan, the founder of the Dalit Freedom Party stated “Earlier they used to simply beat Dalits but now they have gone a step further by committing murder.”