As family refuses to claim TN Dalit youth's body, High Court steps in

The storm surrounding the death of a Dalit youth, whose marriage to a caste Hindu girl had set off communal passions in pockets across the state, continued unabated on Friday, with the Madras High Court eventually ruling that his body be preserved till Tuesday so that a second autopsy could be done if necessary.

Such was the flurry of activities a day after E Ilavarasan was found dead on a railway track behind Dharmapuri Government Arts College that three division benches of the high court heard different petitions related to his ill-fated marriage with Divya Nagarajan, its aftermath and eventual separation, his death, and her future.

The developments leading to his death created suspicions in the minds of Ilavarasan's relatives, who demanded that the autopsy be conducted in Coimbatore or Chennai, in the presence of a doctor of their choice. The district administration and police tried to convince them to go ahead with the autopsy, assuring that the entire procedure would be videographed. But the family refused to accept the body till their demands were met.

When R Sankarasubbu, the counsel who has been representing Ilavarasan in the habeas corpus case filed by Divya's mother Thenmozhi, mentioned the family's demand before a Division Bench at noon, state public prosecutor S Shanmugavelayutham said the autopsy had already been conducted by a team of doctors, including two forensic experts and a general physician. He said the four-hour autopsy concluded at 11 am.

Sankarasubbu then told the court that Dharmapuri SP had assured him in the morning that the autopsy would not begin before 11.30 am. The Bench comprising Justices V Dhanapalan and C T Selvam finally directed the authorities to hand over copies of the autopsy report and video of the procedure to Ilavarasan's father Elangovan. The body should be preserved till Tuesday, when the case will be heard again, so that a second examination could be conducted if suspicions persisted.

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