The mutilated body of a 38-year-old transgender woman priest was found inside the sanctum of a temple on Friday, 15 February, in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi, reported The News Minute.

The deceased has been identified as Rajathi, a Bharatnatyam dancer and priest. Police reports claim that her decapitated head was left outside of the Mariamman temple she used to run. Till now, two men living in the vicinity have been held as the murder suspects.

One of the main accused has reportedly been identified as Maruthu, a 23-year-old who owns the land on which the temple stands. Rajathi, who had been working at the temple for the last few years, was reportedly attacked when performing pooja inside the sanctum on Friday morning, according to police sources.

“We heard that he used to threaten her and shout at her as the land belonged to his grandmother. She had been getting calls from him for the past one year,” Grace Banu, the founder of Trans Rights Now Collective and a native of Thoothukudi, told TNM. It was also been discovered that the two had been harassing her for the past year, sources said.

“We heard that he used to threaten her and shout at her as the land belonged to his grandmother. She had been getting calls from him for the past one year,” Grace Banu, the founder of Trans Rights Now Collective

According to sources from Thoothukudi, Rajathi was in a relationship with Maruthu and recently they had a fallout, following which Maruthu stopped visiting the temple.

READ: Kerala Govt To Fund Transgender People’s Sex Change Surgery

“He and his brothers own the land where this temple is located. After they fell out, it was just Rajathi who was taking care of the temple affairs. A few days ago, Maruthu learnt that she had entered into a relationship with another man. It was following this that the bloodshed took place. Besides this, the five brothers also used to harass Rajathi and the trans women who would come to the temple to pray. When she took over the temple, we feel they feared that the temple would fall into the hands of the trans community,” an anonymous source from the community told TNM.

Speaking to TNM, an investigating officer told on Monday morning, “We almost caught him last night, but he just managed to escape.”

The funeral ceremony was held in Thoothukudi on Saturday.

Feature Image Credit: The News Minute

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