The Madurai Special Sessions Court on Saturday convicted 10 of 17 accused persons for the murder of a Dalit man in 2015 in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district, reported The News Minute.

Judge T Sampathkumar said that the quantum of punishment will be pronounced on March 8.

The Dalit man, Gokulraj, was abducted and killed after he was suspected of being in a relationship with a woman from the Gounder community.

The accused persons were booked under the Indian Penal Code sections that provide punishment for kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, extortion, harbouring an offender, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The prime accused, S Yuvaraj, was the president of the Kongu-Vellalar caste outfit called Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai. According to the report, Yuvaraj was actively involved in preventing inter-caste relationships between the members of the Gounder community and others.

On June 23, 2015, Gokulraj was abducted from the Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple after he was seen talking to a woman from the Gounder community. The next day, his body was found, beheaded, near the railway tracks at Pallipalayam.

Following the murder, Yuvaraj was in hiding for three months until he surrendered to the police in October, according to the report.

The Madras High Court in May 2016 granted him conditional bail but he was jailed again later in August. Since October 2017, after the Supreme Court rejected his bail plea, he has been in jail.

Also read: Love, caste and fury in Tamil Nadu: How a small-time crook came to symbolise Gounder pride