17-year-old dies after fight over ‘caste wrist bands’ in Tamil Nadu

17-year-old dies after fight over 'caste wrist bands' in Tamil Nadu
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TIRUNELVELI: A Class XII student, who suffered head injury in a fight with three Class XI students of his school over wearing wrist band (denoting caste), died on Saturday, two days after undergoing a surgery at the Tirunelveli medical college hospital. Police have arrested three students of Pallakkaal Pothukkudi government higher secondary school near Ambasamudram for murder.

The victim, M Selva Surya, 17, of Pappakudi in Tirunelveli district belonged to most backward class (MBC) while one of the three accused was a dalit and the other two his friends from a minority community. Police said that on April 25, Selva Surya asked the dalit boy why he wore a caste band though he himself (Selva) was wearing one. Some of the students wear coloured bands to identify their caste though the school education department has issued guidelines against it. There was a heated argument between Selva Surya and the dalit boy who soon found support from two of his friends. Things turned violent and one of the accused hit Selva Surya near the left ear with a piece of hollow brick.

However, Selva Surya went home after seeking first aid. The school authorities warned the students and tried to settle the issue amicably.

‘He collapsed due to associated brain injury, renewed bleeding’

Later that night, Selva Surya suffered unbearable pain in the head and was rushed to the Tirunelveli medical college hospital where doctors found a blood clot in his head following a scan. He underwent surgery to remove the clot on April 26, but his condition deteriorated and he died on Saturday morning.
Medical college dean M Ravichandran said Selva Surya was improving after the surgery. He was in the ICU under the care of a neurosurgeon and an anaesthetist and did not require ventilator support from the second day. However, he collapsed due to associated brain injury and re-bleeding, Ravichandran said.
Relatives of Selva Surya protested demanding arrest of the three boys and received his body only after they were apprehended. The accused were initially booked for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means as well as under other IPC sections. Following Selva Surya’s death, the case was altered to murder and two special police teams apprehended the trio.

Since Selva Surya and the accused are from different castes and religions, there was heavy police deployment in Pappakudi and Pallakkaal Pothukkudi villages where tension prevailed. Tirunelveli district superintendent of police P Saravanan told TOI that the accused will be lodged in the home for children in conflict with the law in Tirunelveli. Saravanan said the situation was under control and that police were working to curtail a ripple effect.

Collector V Vishnu asked heads of educational institutions to convene the school advisory committee to ensure strict enforcement of the norms laid down by the school education department regarding removal of casteist wrist bands and other measures to end to such incidents.

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