The ritualistic human sacrifice of two women in Pathanamthitta has elicited widespread public revulsion and social condemnation.
The macabre incident has also raised questions about the rapidness of police response to missing persons cases and the growing fascination in Kerala for superstitious acts, occult ceremonies, expensive talismans, and lucky charms.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the incident a challenge to modern society, rationalism, human rights and scientific temperament.
He said greed, an excessively credulous belief in sorcery and delusions about obtaining wealth through occult practises, had prompted the cold-blooded back-to-back murders.
Congress leader and former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala disputed Mr. Vijayan’s claim that the police had acted efficiently.
The Kalady police registered the first missing person complaint on August 27 and did little. The Kadavanthara police registered the second missing person complaint on September 26 and failed to act.
Mr. Chennithala said the government should punish the officers responsible for the delayed response. He said the police could have prevented the murder had they shown some enthusiasm in tracing the missing persons.
Opposition Leader V. D. Satheesan and KPCC president K. Sudhakaran aired a similar sentiment.
Govt., party slammed
Mr. Sudhakaran said the police were unresponsive to public complaints and distress calls. As many as 67,000 people have gone missing since the LDF came to power in 2016. Many remained untraced.
The crime also assumed the proportion of a political scandal in some measure. Mr. Satheesan alleged the prime suspect had political links with the ruling party.
BJP president K. Surendran said the prime accused was a diehard CPI(M) worker. The party, which vouched for women’s entry to Sabarimala and swore by progressive values, should explain why it brooked such misogynist killers in its ranks. He said the killing method was ISIS-style execution and demanded a deeper enquiry into the possible role of Islamist forces.
Need for stringent law
CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran said Kerala should immediately enact the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman, Evil and Black Magic Act, 2017.
He stressed the need for reasserting rationalism and scientific temperament. Mr. Rajendran said rationalists like Govind Pansare and Kalburgi had fallen to the knives of revanchist forces.
Higher Education Minister R. Bindu and Kerala State Women’s Commission chairperson condemned the incident.