Caste killing in Christian family shocks Kerala

Sahid Faris

The murder of a Dalit man, who recently married a woman from upper caste community apparently at the hands of his wife’s relatives, has caused protests in Kerala.

Kevin P. Joseph, 23, Dalit Christian and Neenu Chacko, 20 ,who belongs to an upper-caste Christian family, had reportedly married just days ago against the wishes of bride’s family.

The Dalit background of the youth Kevin whom Neenu married, and the family’s lower economic status came in the way of their love.

The body of Kevin was found in a stream on Monday, 24 hours after he was captured from his relatives’ house by a group of around 10 people on Sunday, while his relative Aneesh was abandoned on the way with injuries.

The body deceived signs of extreme cruelty including cuts and tears, and eyes were found to be missing.

“My parents were not happy with the financial status of Kevin. They are also involved in the murder I left home after my family came to know about my relationship” Neenu was quoted as saying by Malayala Manorama .

“Even though I am not legally married, I am Kevin’s wife. I will stay at his house only. I will look after his parents and sister. I will not return even if my parents call me back,” she said.

Rajan, Kevin’s father says that Neenu’s rich family did not approve of his son as they were not financially well off.

“She said she does not want to go to her house and that she doesn’t have anyone else. She asked me if she can come and stay at Kevin’s house, so I brought her with me. She belongs here now.” Rajan said.

Neenu’s father and brother, the prime accused, were taken into custody on Tuesday.

Many of the accused are believed to be local-level representatives of the CPI(M)-led Democratic Youth Federation of India.

Kevin’s death and the feeling that he could have been saved, had the Kerala police acted on time, had driven the protests.

The police allegedly had refused to accept a complaint by Neenu after his missing.

The policemen at the station reportedly told her that the chief minister of state was there and all officials were busy with his schedule, Hindustan Times reported.

Assistant Sub-inspector Biju, who allegedly spoke with the culprits twice during the crime, has been suspended.

Amid protests over police callousness, more police officers are under a cloud of suspicion for their involvement with the accused in the case and failure of duty.

“It was an unfortunate incident. Police have some lead in the case and all accused will be arrested soon,” CM Pinarayi Vijayan responded.

Honor killings are familiar in northern states of India and had been unheard of in Kerala.

“Towards love, especially towards love between people of different religion and caste, relatives and society maintain enmity and fear. Often the systems like police and court protect this.” KK Baburaj, Dalit writer and activist said.

“Just saw a man asking on TV: “Is our dark skin the reason behind justice being denied to us?” He’s a converted Dalit Christian just like Kevin It’s a shame to a state like Kerala that a human being had to ask this. For the marginalised, caste is such a brutal reality.” Ardra Balachandran, social activist from Kerala tweeted.

Sahid Faris is a freelance journalist based in Kerala

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