A 13-year-old girl has been beheaded with a piece of farm equipment after refusing to have sex with her neighbour.
The killer, identified as Dinesh Kumar, beheaded the girl with a sickle in a small village near Attur in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu, India, local media reports said.
According to News18, Kumar was arrested and charged under an act criminalising caste-based violence, which was passed in India in 1989.
Police were said to have dismissed suggestions he was suffering from mental health problems when he slaughtered the youngster.
The girl was studying at a nearby school and had reportedly told her mum about the man’s continuous sexual advances, which she repeatedly turned down.
Her parents who were labourers, are thought to be a lower caste than the accused, which local reports suggest caused his violent reaction.
In India, Hindus are separated into four main categories – the Brahmins (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants) and Shudras (workers).
These are then divided further into around 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, each based on their specific occupation.
But the lower castes, known as Dalits, are often denied the right to education and employment and are not even included in the four-tier Varna class system.
Dalits were once called the ‘untouchables’and were outside the class system and despite new laws against discriminating against lower casts, bias still remains.
The National Crime Records Bureau said the total number of crimes against people of lower castes was more than 47,000 in 2016.
Ponkarthik Kumar, a senior police official in the district, told CNN: “The girl was brutally murdered. The investigation is ongoing and the accused has been arrested.”
Jayna Kothari, executive director at the Centre of Law and Policy Research, added that crimes against women under the act are under-reported in official Tamil Nadu statistics, which account for only five to eight per cent of total crimes against members of lower castes.