By P. Sreekumaran
Keralites woke up to a black Sunday on May 27 that witnessed a murder of unspeakable brutality. One should have thought that such a despicable act would not happen in an enlightened state like Kerala, which boasts a high literacy rate and developmental indices that match those of the most developed countries.
But that was not to be. The ground reality is entirely different. Kerala and Keralites would never be able to live down the shame of man’s inhumanity to man in this latest murder case.
A close look at the brutal killing is in order to realize the extent to which the so-called progressive Kerala society has decayed. Kevin Joseph, the Dalit Christian boy, was murdered for daring to marry an upper caste Christian woman, Neenu Chacko, at the end of a three-year-old romance, against the wishes of her parents. Kevin was abducted and killed allegedly by Neenu’s brother and other relatives for transgressing his social status.
The murder has seen the Kerala police hogging the headlines, once again, for the wrong reasons. The killing could have been avoided if only the police had acted fast on a complaint filed by Neenu and Kevin’s father. The police refused to act on the ground that the force was busy with the visit of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan!
It is to the credit of the LDF Government that the main culprits – around nine of them – including Neenu’s father — have been arrested. The sub-inspector of the particular police station and the district police chief have been suspended, too. But mere suspension won’t do. The enormity of the crime makes a strong pitch for harsher punishment. The magnitude of the police’s apathy and insensitivity can be gauged from the fact that they wasted more than five precious hours to swing into action. The inexcusable delay snuffed out a precious young life.
A chastened Chief Minister has gone on record condemning the police failure to take quick action. Such an incident should not have happened in a state like Kerala, Vijayan said.
Be that as it may, the stark reality is that honour killing, a north Indian phenomenon, has been transplanted to the Kerala soil, too. Of course, this is not the first such instance. Barely two months ago, was a 23-year-old woman brutally murdered by her father for deciding to marry a Dalit youth!
What makes the killing all the more poignant is that the parents of Neenu had an inter-caste marriage. That they failed to imbibe the spirit of the changing times is a sad commentary on Keralites’ skin-deep commitment to liberal values.
There are points to ponder from the gruesome killing. Despite the veneer of progress and modernity, Kerala continues to be a patriarchal society where women are not given the respect and equal status they are entitled to. The medieval mindset must change if such honour killings are not to be repeated.
The Government has a special responsibility in this regard. It must fulfill its basic responsibility to uphold the rule of the law and protect the citizens. (IPA Service)
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