An Indian father hired a killer to kill his newly-married daughter's husband because he belongs to a lower caste, court records say.
Pranay Perumalla, husband of Amrutha Varshini, was killed less than a month after her marriage in 2018 after a suspected assassin had chopped him on the head and neck with a large butcher's knife.
The bride's family protested violently against marriage, particularly because of the country's caste system, a traditionalist social order based on an identity established at birth in spite of India's modernization remains ubiquitous to this day.
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Perumalla, formerly part of the lower Dalit caste, was previously known as the "untouchable", few of whom, according to the Washington Post, dared to go from higher caste, let alone marry.
Varshini and her wealthy family belonged to One A Higher Caste, which viewed their relationship with Perumalla as a blow to the family's position and as mere humiliation.
This caused her father, T. Maruthi Rao, to hire assassins to assassinate the husband, court records said, the Post reported.
While discrimination was banned on account of the caste system of 1948, as a principle enshrined in the country's constitution, social order is by no means banished from society and continues to be particularly relevant to marriage. Few couples dare to marry someone from different castes while those who risk death risk death.
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"I can even marry you with a beggar belonging to a higher caste," Amrutha said her father once told her, the Post said. "But I do not want you to marry from a lower caste, whoever it is."
"I can even marry you with a beggar who belongs to an upper caste. But I do not want you to marry from a lower caste, whoever it is.
After years of keeping the relationship a secret, the couple decided to marry and then leave India for Australia, hoping to avoid their family's revenge. However, the plan was postponed due to Amrutha's pregnancy.
According to court records, Amrutha's father has agreed to pay $ 150,000 for the murder of his son-in-law. He used a local political leader as an intermediary, "the newspaper reported.
The murder of the husband caused shock waves throughout India. Hundreds of Dalits protested the injustice and expressed their condolences to Amrutha, while others came to openly support their father.
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"This is an incident in which a [Dalit] man intimidated and married her," said Shyam Sunder Chilukuri, a lawyer in Miryalaguda the post. "There is a possibility that other daughters of wealthy people are trapped in the name of the villain's love [by]."
Amrutha's father is currently on bail until the trial starts in September.