Kannur school student attacked in a moral policing incident in Kerala

CCTV visuals depict the student, who was on his way home from the SSLC model exam yesterday, being attacked on a busy road, while no one stopped to help at first
Jineesh (left); a screen grab from the CCTV visuals
Jineesh (left); a screen grab from the CCTV visuals

A student was attacked by an auto driver at Mutharipeedika, Pannur in Kannur. A class X student of Rajiv Gandhi Higher Secondary School was beaten up for walking with his female friend. CCTV visuals depict the student, who was on his way home from the SSLC model exam yesterday, being attacked on a busy road. No one stopped to help at first.

The auto driver, Jineesh, claims he mistook the student for someone else. While the student’s family has lodged a complaint with the Panur police, there are rumours that the police are trying for a mutual settlement. The family, however, is said to be firm and will not back out from pursuing the case. Jineesh is currently absconding from the police.

Moral policing is not new in Kerala. On February 19, a housewife in Thiruvananthapuram is said to have set herself on fire after she was threatened by the moral police. According to sources, four youths from the neighbourhood threatened Akshara when they saw a male friend of her husband’s drop by the house when her family wasn’t at home. Akshara cut her wrist and set herself on fire post the incident.

A 27-year-old man who was trying to moral police a 17-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man was stabbed and injured in the process. The incident, which occurred September 2019, took place at a private bus stand in Thodupuzha in Idukki district. Vinu Prakash, a resident of Thodupuzha, and the girl, who is his neighbour, were standing at the bus stand and talking when three men approached the duo and started questioning them. The three later started assaulting the duo and created a ruckus in the area. One of the three, Libin Baby, then took out a knife from his pocket and tried to attack Vinu. However, while trying to stop the attack, Vinu got hold of the knife and stabbed Libin on his shoulders.

In December 2019, a case was registered against the secretary of the Press Club in Thiruvananthapuram, M Radhakrishan for alleged moral policing and trespassing into the house of a woman colleague. Radhakrishnan and a group of men forcefully entered her house while her friend was visiting. Accusing her of having an extramarital affair with her friend, who is also a colleague, the men tried to assault the male friend and verbally abused the two.

In March 2017, Shiva Sena activists caned and abused young couples sitting and talking in Marine Drive, Kochi. Also in 2017, 24-year-old Aneesh from Korara Anagada in Agali died as the victim of a vigilante attack in Quilon. His crime was visiting Azhikkal Beach with a girlfriend.

In June 2014, a female theatre artiste and her male colleague were detained in police custody for traveling together at night, which stirred protests against moral policing on social media. Hima Shankar and her friend Sreeram Rameshand were arrested because they were travelling in a two-wheeler late at night. They were not released from the police station even after the parents arrived to clarify the issue.

Activist Elizabeth Koshy in an interview with a media publication said, “Outsiders may find it unbelievable that such things happen in Kerala. But what they don't know is that Kerala has always been regressive when it comes to moral codes,” said activist Elizabeth Koshy. She said the rising right-wing extremism coupled with the rigid moral codes of minority religions are responsible for these incidents. When you are prone to consider sex as sin, these issues are bound to happen.”

The NationWide