Kevin P Joseph, a Dalit Christian, was allegedly murdered by the kin of his wife who belonged to an upper caste Christian family in a suspected case of honour killing. Merely hours after their court marriage, Kevin was abducted from his home by an armed gang on Saturday night.
“On Sunday around 1 am, a gang of armed men entered his house, wreaked havoc and kidnapped Kevin and his friend Aneesh (30). According to his wife Neenu’s complaint, her brother and others are involved in the abduction. Kevin is a Dalit Christian and the girl’s father is a Christian, while her mother is a Muslim. Her brother has opposed the wedding. Police have taken into custody one accused in the abduction and have also seized an Innova used by the gang,” an officer at the Gandhinagar station, where Neenu Chacko, Kevin’s wife, filed a missing complaint on Sunday, said.
The Police, thus far, have identified 10 accused including the brother of Neenu and detained 2 DYFI members, Ishal and Niyas, in connection with the incident. Niyas is reportedly the unit secretary of DYFI in Thenmala. The Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, Mohammad Rafique, was transferred for not acting on the missing complaint filed by the victim on Sunday. Sub-Inspector MS Shibu and the ASI have also been suspended. According to the girl’s complaint, the police cited lack of personnel due to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s visit for initially refusing to take any action. Kerala Human Rights Commission have stated that the murder is suspected to be a case of honour killing and demanded that the Police chief submit a report within 3 weeks if there was any negligence on the part of the Police while investigating the case.
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have called for a day-long hartal at Kottayam on Tuesday. “It is a brutal murder. His life should have been saved if the police acted swiftly. It is shame police personnel were deployed for the CM security,” said the leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, from the Congress party.
Contrary to popular belief, casteism is rampant among the Christian community in India. Dalits have separate burial spaces in many places. Reports had emerged in 2008 that a thousand Dalit Christians had reconverted to Hinduism after clashes between Dalit Catholics and Christian Catholics.