Vachathi is a name that has a certain resonance as a place of infamy, but 20 years ago it was just another tribal village in the hills of Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district. No one living in it was aware that its anonymity was about to end in the worst possible way. Indeed, 20 years ago, Perumal, then 50, must have considered himself blessed by the gods. He was so popular that villagers thought of him as the oor gounder (village chieftain) even though his tenure had run its course. Two