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Kevin Joseph Case: Killing In God’s Own Country In The Name Of ‘Honour’

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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,

  1. Kevin fell into the canal and drowned while trying to escape.
  2. Kevin was forcefully drowned by the culprits.
  3. Or if Kevin, after being beaten up (post-mortem revealed bruises on his body) fell unconscious and then later drowned after his body was dropped into the canal.

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.

You must be to comment.
  1. Jessica Sinha

    “dalit” and “Christian”? This must be a special phenomenon, I live in a country full of Christians, but there are no dalits here. Is it finally time to get rid of these labels?

    1. Karthika S Nair

      Dear Jessica Sinha, the information is always there at your fingertips. You could have accessed it.

      And it is not a phenomenon but rather both infuriating and sad reality due to which people are killed, like the above example. The intention is not to glorify caste but to bring to bring an end to it by challenging the same.

      Source: Wikipedia

      //Dalits who converted to Christianity did not escape the caste system which has a strongly ingrained presence in Indian society that is not limited to Hindu religious ideals. The different branches of Christianity in India still engage in these societal practices with regards to the caste system, along with all its customs and norms, to varying degrees depending on the particular sect. Within the three major Christian branches in India, there were historically and are currently different levels of caste acceptance. The Protestant churches have most consistently repudiated the caste system, rejecting it as a Hindu construct, and have made the greatest attempt to establish a casteless community. The Roman Catholic Church developed a more culturally tolerant view, treating the caste system as part of the Indian social structure and, for much of its history in India, it has chosen to work within the established social system; similarly the Syrian Orthodox Churches have responded in like fashion, except it has tended to collectively act as one caste within the caste system instead of maintaining different castes within their churches.//

      Caste system among Christians: The caste system among Indian Christians often reflects stratification by sect, location, and the castes of their predecessors.[1] //The caste system today is beyond Hinduism (Hindu society) and it exists in most religions in India.[2]

      Caste distinctions among Indian Christians are breaking down at about the same rate as those among Indians belonging to other religions. There exists evidence to show that Christian individuals have mobility within their respective castes.[3] But, in some cases, social inertia causes old traditions and biases against other castes to remain, causing caste segregation to persist among Indian Christians.[4][5][6][7][8]

      Christian priests, nuns, Dalits and similar groups are also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.//

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