The brutal murder of a youth who had married out of his community, allegedly by a gang led his wife’s family members, has snowballed into a major political controversy in the State putting the police and the CPI(M) on the back foot.
The murder, presumably a case of honour killing, also triggered a huge debate about the State’s actual achievements in social inclusion as the deceased youth, Kevin P. Joseph, belonged to a family of converted Christians and his wife Neenu Chacko, 20, a second year B.Com student, belonged to the family of an inter-religious married couple, her father a Catholic and mother a Muslim.
Kevin and Neenu had got married at a civil marriage ceremony on May 24. Neenu’s family had tried to take her away with the help of the police, but she returned and took a room at a women’s hostel here. Kevin, apparently fearing attack from Neenu’s relatives, had gone to a relative’s house after leaving her at the hostel.
In the early hours of Sunday, the youth was dragged out of the house and taken in a car along with one of his relatives, who was later released by the abductors.
On Monday morning, Kevin’s body was found in a canal near Thenmala in Kollam. It also came to light that despite the best efforts of Neenu and the youth’s parents lasting several hours on Sunday, the Gandhi Nagar police had refused to accept a complaint sought to be filed by them seeking urgent steps to trace the youth.
The abductors were subsequently identified as Neenu’s close kin and their friends, some of them local-level functionaries of the CPI(M)-led Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in Kollam. The police took three persons into custody in connection with the incident by late Monday evening.
As news about the youth’s death spread, activists of various Dalit organisations and UDF workers led by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, KC(M) chairman K.M. Mani, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MLA, and Congress leader Lathika Subhash converged before the Gandhi Nagar police station and began a sit-in demanding immediate action against the police officials who had given scant regard to the girl’s pleadings on Sunday.
With polling for the Assembly byelection in the neighbouring Chengannur constituency in full swing,
The government swung into action and suspended Gandhi Nagar SHO M.M. Shibu and transferred out Kottayam District Police Chief V.M. Mohammed Rafik.
The government also ordered formation of four separate teams under IG Vijay Sakhare to take the investigation forward.