Kerala: Father Kills Daughter A Day Before She Was To Marry A Man From Lower Caste
Legitimized by tradition and sanctified by religion, the murky ties between caste and social estimation of honour have claimed another young life in modern India. Rajan, a man from Kerala, chased his 21-year-old daughter Athira into a neighbour’s house and stabbed her fatally before anyone could save her.
This happened on Thursday evening, a day before she was to be married to Brijesh, a soldier from Koyilandy who is currently posted in UP. The reason being that Athira belongs to Ezhava (OBC) community and Brijesh’s family are Dalits (Pulayas).
A shattered Brijesh recalls the last call he received from Athira, “she told me that he (her father) had come home drunk and that she was scared. The last time we spoke was at around 3 pm that evening when she called me to say that I should complete all wedding preparations soon.”
She was murdered around 4.30 pm the same evening when her mother and two brothers were in Kozhikode city to buy new clothes for the wedding.
Love Could not Conquer All
Brijesh first met Athira at a hospital in Kozhikode in 2015 where she worked as a lab technician, and Brijesh had come with his ailing mother. Not long after, the feelings grew stronger. Brijesh’s family members had not met Athira, but they were aware and approved in principle.
The problems started when Athira had to tell her parents about her intention to marry Brijesh when she began getting other marriage proposals. Her father and her brothers were sternly against the lower caste groom and tried to dissuade the two. Rajan even harassed his daughter at her place of work, and she left home to live with a friend.
The police got involved when Athira’s family filed a missing person complaint at the Area code police station. Brijesh was in the UP, and he took leave to return home when he received a call from the police. At the police station, Rajan apparently begrudgingly consented to the wedding and police asked Athira to go back home. For the two young adults in love, it seemed the battle was won but alas.
“Many times, her father has called me up and threatened me to sever ties with her. However, we did not budge; we were sure we wanted to be together…she kept saying that she was scared to go with him, but the police asked her to. After all, the wedding was to take place in five days. We thought there wouldn’t be any more problems,” Brijesh says.
Where is the ‘Honor’ here?
A father killed his daughter on the eve of her marriage. Fathers, brothers and other male relatives kill their flesh and blood for flouting their conservative values. Marriage, eloping, or even fraternizing with the perceived “other” community or gender has led to many lives cut brutally short. Women are the main victims as they are seen not as competent adults with their rights and life choices but merely as a commodity, a token which is a reflection of the “honour” of the family or community. There is absolutely and irrefutably no honour in this heinous crime.
South Asia and the Indian subcontinent, in particular, have the highest prevalence of honour killings. National Crime Records Bureau data showed a 792% spike in these crimes in 2015. India registered 251 honour killings in 2015 against 28 in 2014; the government told Parliament in 2015
It is time we revisit the Indian Penal Code and form a comprehensive and exhaustive set of laws and guidelines which deal exclusively with this issue. Currently, these crimes come under various IPC depending on the severity of the crime. Importantly, in most of these cases, police action after the fact is more visible, and couples are asking for protection are often left in danger, waiting for some calamity to befall.