Normal life was affected on Tuesday in Kottayam district following a dawn-to-dusk hartal called by various political parties and Dalit organisations to protest the alleged honour killing of a 23-year-old man.
Shops, markets, and business establishments remained closed in several parts of the district while private bus terminus in various towns wore a deserted look in view of the hartal called by parties including the Congress and BJP.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operated its long-distance services from the district.
Kevin P Joseph, a Dalit Christian, was abducted and killed by a gang of criminals allegedly engaged by his fiancees’ relatives.
His body was found in a river in Kollam district yesterday.
Joseph’s fiancee, whose father is a Christian and mother a Muslim, alleged laxity on the part of police when she approached the Gandhinagar police station near here with a missing complaint.
Former chief minister and Congress working committee member A K Antony said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should take responsibility for the alleged lapse on the part of police in dealing with the case.
Leader of the opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala demanded resignation of Vijayan.
Meanwhile, the body of the man was brought to his native Kumaranellore village amid poignant scenes. After locals paid their homage, it was taken for burial.
Earlier, Joseph’s fiancee told reporters in Kottayam that she did not get justice from the police.
The police did not move even after she appealed to the Sub Inspector that Joseph’s life was in danger and he should be rescued, she claimed.
Bursting into tears, she said she was Joseph’s wife and would stay in his residence.
Relatives of the deceased man have alleged he was tortured and killed by the gang engaged by his fiancee’s brother, two days after they filed a joint application for marriage registration at a sub-registrar office near here.
Meanwhile, autopsy of Joseph was conducted at the Government Medical College Hospital here.
A case has been registered against 10 persons, including the fiancee’s brother in connection with the incident.
Kerala Human Rights Commission has said it was suspected to be a case of honour killing and ordered the state police chief to submit a report in three weeks.
Sub-Inspector M S Shibu and Grade ASI Sunnymon of the Gandhinagar police station were yesterday suspended for laxity while Kottayam District Superintendent of Police V M Mohammed Rafique transferred following the incident.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has described the incident as “unfortunate” and said it should not have happened.
Antony said there was a grave lapse on the part of the police in dealing with the case and it cannot be justified.
“The government and Chief Minister has to take the responsibility for this’, he said.
He also said it was not proper for the Kerala society to remain silent over the honour killing.
In a similar incident, a girl was killed allegedly by her father in Malappuram a month ago, Anotny said adding “now another honour killing has happened” in the state.
These honour killings actually point to the degradation of cultural and social values, he said.
“Casteism and primitive rituals which the state had driven away through social reforms have started to come back…Kerala is virtually turning as lunatic asylum as described by Swami Vivekananda,” he said.
The general public, political leadership and social organisations also should perform their responsibilities, he added.
Chennithala demanded the resignation of Vijayan, claiming that the state police force under him had crumbled.
Suspension of a few police personnel in connection with the incident was an eye wash, he added.