When I watched the movie “NH-10”, the brutal ‘honour killing’ scene left a searing pain in me. More than the murder, it was the girl’s mother’s lack of regret over the same that left me numb because we are looking a woman who prioritized her false sense of “honour” and ego over her daughter’s life. Over the years many cases of ‘honour killing’ have been reported in Haryana, Rajasthan and UP.
In December, I read about the verdict which condemned the prime accused in the Shankar murder case (T.N honour killing) with a death sentence. Little did I know that a similar case will sprout up in Kerala, leaving the public struck with anger and that the same will ignite a sense of distrust. A lot of crimes took place in 2018 that are difficult to look at but at the same time, cannot be ignored. Kevin Joseph’s murder case is one of them.
Kevin Joseph, a Dalit Christian married a woman named Neenu who belongs to a privileged class. Neenu herself belongs to an inter-caste household (her father is Christian and her mother a Muslim) but their relationship had been opposed with death threats from her family. Kevin’s brutalized body was found in Chaliyekkara canal in Kollam. The main accused Shanu Chacko and Chacko John surrendered and they have been taken into custody. After Kevin’s body was released from post-mortem, it was declared that he died due to drowning. It is not yet confirmed if,
What’s angering is that apart from the crime in itself, casteism is reflected throughout the case.
Neenu, along with her father in-law, filed a police complaint when Kevin went missing. The police passed on the complaint and prioritised CM’s programme which was scheduled to take place, after which they would investigate the case. A lot of conversations and theories are being made regarding the involvement of both police and politics in this case. Due to the inaction of the police, Neenu was forced to protest in front of the station and it was only after media coverage and reactions from the angry mob, that the police finally acted. Two officers have also been taken into custody for allegedly aiding Kevin’s murderers.
The lack of cooperation from the police cost Kevin his life but more than that the lack of trust from the public. Should the CM be given that much “protection” that it will kill them to send the authorities to track down those who abducted Kevin? We have seen this over the years, in Badaun case the cops drove the girl’s parents away when they went to file the reports. In Unnao case, police protection was given to the accused while the survivor’s father was murdered in custody. Casteism is a matter of powerplay and it is a pity that only hashtags and angry mobs fuel the authority’s efficiency.
Another facet that angered me is the media. After Kevin’s body was brought to his house, the video and photographs of Neenu’s heartbreaking cries were recorded. How can the media be this insensitive that they have invaded the mourning family and force them to face cameras? A female journalist brought the mic to Neenu and prompted her to speak up. Neenu, visibly tired and devastated, could barely speak and amidst all this, we could see the journalists prompting her to talk.
It is just sad as well as exasperating to see the whole incident reduced to this level.