Police in southern India have arrested five men in connection with the murder of a low-caste man in what appears to be a case of an "honour killing," officials said Tuesday.

Initial investigations revealed that the 22-year-old man V Shankar was killed for marrying a woman from a higher caste.

He was hacked to death by assailants armed with sickles and sharp weapons on a busy road in Tamil Nadu state's Tirupur district on Sunday.

His wife Kausalya, 19, was seriously injured and hospitalized.

"The woman’s father, who was opposed to the marriage and allegedly masterminded the attack, has surrendered," district police chief Saroj Kumar Thakur said by phone.

"Five main accused who were hired by him to kill the couple were arrested on Tuesday. They all have criminal antecedents," he added.

The couple married eight months ago but the woman’s family, which belongs to the powerful Thevar caste, had refused to accept her marriage to a low-caste man and had allegedly threatened them several times.

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are at the lowest rank in India’s caste system.

Marriages between people of different castes, religions or certain kinship groups are opposed in large parts of India.

Activists said scores of men and women are ostracized or killed every year for defying tradition.

The Supreme Court has recommended the death penalty for those convicted of committing so-called honour killings.

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