An apathetic police and pseudo progressive ideals in Kerala lead to an increase in honour killings

As Palakkad police refuse to take action on an attempt to murder complaint filed by an interfaith couple, they follow the same pattern that led to the death of two others in the state
An apathetic police and pseudo progressive ideals in Kerala lead to an increase in honour killings

Barely a week has passed since the murder of Aneesh by his wife’s father and uncle, Palakkad police have come under the scanner for refusing to file a murder attempt case against in another inter-religious marriage incident in Kerala. Akshay, who had married Surumi on October 2, alleged that her uncles tried to kill him while he was going home on Sunday.

Akshay had told police that the attackers — Abu Thahir and Hakeem — tried to kill him using swords, but he was lucky enough to have escaped with injuries. However, the police refused to file a murder attempt against the perpetrators and charged them with minor parts of the IPC, which allowed them to go out on bail. This is despite the police facing criticism over their alleged lack of caution in the murder of Aneesh. Akshay and his wife had submitted multiple times that they faced threats from her family over their marriage. They allege that the police have not taken any strict action despite repeated complaints. They add that it was luck that helped Akshay escape this time.

Meanwhile, the death of Aneesh had rocked the state, which prides itself on being a progressive land. His wife’s family had opposed Aneesh marrying her since he was from a “lower caste and low-income background”. The 27-year-old was hacked to death by the wife’s father, Prabhu Kumar, and uncle Suresh. They have already been taken into custody and the police have collected evidence regarding the crime. While the wife has also accused her grandfather of the crime, the police are yet to question him.

Kerala is not exactly new or unfamiliar with case violence and honour killing despite claiming to be the progressive state that it is. In May 2018, Shanu Chacko kidnaped his sister’s husband, Kevin Joseph, because the former was unhappy about his sister’s decision to marry a Dalit Christian. Two days later, his body would be found in a canal in Kollam. Almost 15 months later, a Kottayam Court would convict 10 out of the 14 accused in the murder case to double life imprisonment, while the wife’s father would be acquitted due to want of evidence. With the judgement, it would be the first conviction in caste killing or honour killing in Kerala history.

Many had claimed that the incident would come down following the court’s verdict, but it didn’t seem to be the case. Moreover, what was worse was that the police remain apathetic to a similar cry for help. In Kevin’s case, people nearby Kevin’s home, from where they were abducted, had reported the incident to the police. However, the officials ignore the calls, including those from Kevin’s father. Six hours later, Kevin’s cousin Aneesh is released by the captors and he informs the wife of the incident. Though she reaches the police station to report the case, the police inform her that they can start the investigation only after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s programme in the city, which isn’t four hours later. Seven hours after the wife registering the case and 12 hours after the kidnapping, the police take the wife to submit her statement in front of the magistrate and start the investigation. They find the car that was used by the abductors as well as an accomplice whose investigation leads the police Chaliyakkara River in Kollam. Police found Kevin’s body almost 100 km away from his home, and two days later.

In Aneesh’s case, the girl’s parents had threatened them and declared that he wouldn’t live for more than three months. While Aneesh and his wife had reported this to the police, they didn’t take any action against the family, and let it slide. Despite Aneesh reporting multiple instances of threats from his wife’s family, the police refused to take any action believing that the threats weren’t real. In the penultimate day of the proclaimed three months, his wife's family killed Aneesh and dumped his body in a canal.

Now, another incident in Palakkad follows the same pattern that has historically proven to be fatal. Even though the threats are reported, the police refuse to take serious action. By the time anything is done, a body is lain to rest forever in remembrance of the police’s apathy that has time and time again shone a light on Kerala's pseudo progressive ideals.

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