Dalit MLA's wedding to Brahmin girl stirs a storm

The wedding of a member of the legislative assembly who belongs to the lower Dalit caste with a Brahmin woman has sparked a controversy in Tamil Nadu.

According to media reports from the state, on the morning of lawmaker (MLA) A. Prabhu's wedding to Ms Soundarya on Oct 6, her father dashed into the legislator's house in Kallakurichi and threatened to immolate himself in protest.

Mr Swaminathan, a temple priest, doused himself in flammable liquid and said that Ms Soundarya, a second year arts degree student in a private college at Tiruchengode, about 145km from Kallakurichi, had been abducted by the MLA.

Police stopped him and a case was later lodged against him for attempted suicide.

Mr Prabhu is 35 years old and Ms Soundarya 19. Mr Swaminathan later told reporters that caste was not his concern, but the age difference.

The New Indian Express reported that Mr Swaminathan has received threats from Mr Prabhu's supporters, who allegedly asked him not to report the incident to the police.

The Hindu journalist Mohammad Imranullah tweeted that the Madras High Court is hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Mr Swaminathan, accusing Mr Prabhu of abducting his daughter.

According to several media reports, Mr Swaminathan has alleged that Mr Prabhu has been a family friend for 15 years and in a relationship with his daughter for the last four years, from the time she was a minor.

Mr Prabhu rebutted this claim and released a video featuring Ms Soundarya in which he said that they had been in a relationship for just four months.

He denied that he had abducted her. He said that when he approached Ms Soundarya's family for permission to marry her, they refused.

He went on to say that he married Ms Soundarya with the permission of his parents who were also witnesses to the wedding ceremony.

Ms Soundarya does not speak in the video. In a separate video, Ms Soundarya said that she was neither abducted nor intimidated into marriage.

Mr Prabhu told NDTV that he hoped that his relationship with his in-laws will improve.

"Till I was 30 I was busy with politics," he said. "After I was elected, my family chose a bride for me but Amma (former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa) died and I was heartbroken and did not marry. But during the Covid-19 lockdown, I had close interaction with her (Ms Soundarya) and we fell in love."

Indo-Asian News Service


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