Three recent cases of suspected dowry deaths in Kerala has led to outrage and demands for changes in law preventing such incidents. A 24-year-old woman was found dead with burn injuries in her rented home where she was staying with her husband in Thiruvanathapuram’s Vizhinjam area, police said on Tuesday. The body of Archana, wife of Suresh, was found at the house in Payattuvila in Vizinjam late last night, they said.
The woman’s family alleged that the husband, a plumber by profession, and his family had recently demanded money and property share from the woman. The couple had been in love for some time and Archana went with Suresh without the knowledge of her family, following which the parents married her off to him last year, they said.
However, their relationship got strained after some time over some family disputes, they said. The woman’s father Ashokan said she could not have set herself on fire and claimed she would never have taken such an extreme step.
“Both of them were in my home till 8.00 PM. He had carried diesel in his hand. When asked, he said it was to kill ants. But now I have my own doubts on why he carried the fuel," he said. However, police said interrogation of Suresh and inquest procedures are continuing and it was too early to arrive at any conclusion on the exact cause of the death.
So far, no arrest has been recorded in connection with the incident, they said.
The deaths were reported on Monday hours after Vismaya, a 24-year-old Ayurveda student, was found hanging at her husband’s house after sending her relatives a series of WhatsApp messages over alleged harassment she suffered over dowry from him.
The victim’s family said she was harassed over the car gifted to her at her wedding. In her WhatsApp chat, which her family shared with the media, Vismaya alleged that her husband did not like the car gifted by her father as dowry and used to beat her over that.
In the shocking chats, the woman also alleged that she was dragged by her hair and stamped on the face over dowry
especially over the car by Kumar, a motor vehicle department employee. According to the woman’s parents, she was harassed over demands for a luxury car as the one gifted to her was worth just Rs 10 lakh.
The woman’s parents claimed they had gifted their daughter over 100 sovereigns of gold and one-acre land but his son-in law used to verbally abuse them for more dowry. “But, he did not like the car and wanted Rs 10 lakh as cash instead of it. As I said it was not possible, he used to torture my daughter. He had beaten Vismaya in front of us after coming to our home during midnight last January," the victim’s father Thrivikraman Nair told TV channel.
State police chief Loknath Behra has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under Inspector General (IG) Harshita Attaluri to probe the cases.
Meanwhile, another woman, 19-year-old Suchitra, was found dead at the house of her husband in Alappuzha under suspicious circumstances, family sources said.
The newly wed woman, married in this March to Army officer Vishnu, who is now in Uttarakhand, was found motionless at the bedroom this morning, they said. Besides Suchitra, only her husband’s parents were there when the incident occurred. Police said investigation is going on.
The incidents were condemned by Kerala Women’s Commission member Shahida Kamal who was quoted saying that both incidents are heart-rending. “It is sad despite a good education and economic background many (demand)…dowry. We need stricter provisions to curb this,” she said.
Commenting on the State Congress chief K Sudhakaran said, “The two incidents are really shocking. We have to ensure such ugly incidents will not recur.”
(With PTI inputs)