Four months after the death of 25-year-old Anliya, a victim of domestic abuse in Kerala, the investigation has finally picked up some pace. The Crime Branch, which is investigating the case, has said that the evidence thus far indicates that Anliya might have killed herself. “However, the evidence also hints that the abuse in her marriage might have driven her to take the drastic step,” the investigating officer told TNM.
When the Crime Branch took over the case on January 19, her husband Justin, an accused in the case, surrendered before a court in Thrissur, his native, and eventually was taken into their custody on January 23. The Guruvayoor Assistant Superintendent of Police, who was the first investigating officer when Anliya’s father Hygenous filed the complaint against Justin, has handed over all the evidence in the case, including Anliya’s diary and drawings.
The investigating officer also told TNM that they are poring over a complaint letter that Anliya had written to the Kadavanthra police in Ernakulam, but never filed. This undated letter, which TNM accessed, was written with the subject: Mental harassment from Justin and his family.
A police complaint that was never filed
In the complaint, Anliya talks about the physical and mental harassment she was subjected to, by her husband Justin and his family.
“Ammachi (Justin’s mother) used to harass me over the phone several times. She used to put pressure on me to be pregnant… Justin used to throw utensils in anger... I was once taken for counselling for misbehaving,” she wrote.
The harassment continued even when she was pregnant. Six months into her pregnancy, Justin would force her to take an autorickshaw and travel in a bus, Anliya said in the complaint letter. “They (the family) did not let me stay in the ground floor of the house although they had a room there,” she added.
“When my due date was approaching, I had severe diarrhoea and was bedridden, but they refused to take me to a hospital. I would not utter a word out of fear. She (mother-in-law) did not even give me the consideration of being pregnant,” she wrote.
By the ninth month of her pregnancy, Anliya decided to inform her parents.
“In December 2017, my parents reached Kerala and performed all the functions for a pregnant woman. But they soon had to admit me to a hospital because I was weak, although Justin’s family decided to wait for one day. The doctors realised that I was underfed and that the baby’s movements were less. I had to undergo some scans. If my parents had not come at the right time, there would have been no guarantee that my child and I may have ever survived. Their (Justin’s family) behaviour towards me was bad.”
Even after having the baby in January 2018, Justin continued to harass her and hit her.
Anliya also recalls an incident a day after her delivery. “Justin and I had gone to the canteen in the hospital for 45 minutes to have some food. When we came back, Justin’s mother created a ruckus, tried to attack me and even called me an irresponsible mother for leaving my newborn alone. Justin’s brother also tried to hit me. All through this, Justin did not speak up and tell them that we stepped away to have some food,” she wrote.
Justin continued to abuse her, mentally harass her and even hit her on multiple occasions, she said.
When her three-month-old child was ill and admitted to Lakshmi Hospital in Ernakulam, she told her mother-in-law about the torture and how he was misbehaving with her. “Instead of supporting me, she asked him to divorce me,” she wrote.
“He married me for my wealth,” Anliya said. “He would leave me alone in the apartment when I reached Dubai after the wedding. Even in Kerala, he would come home late and often insist for divorce.”
As she had written in her diary, Anliya reiterated in the police complaint that if anything happened to her, “Justin, Mathew (father-in-law), Elsy (mother-in-law), Jaison (brother-in-law) and Jessy (sister-in-law) will be responsible.”
“I am an educated woman. I lost my health and I get no love. They made me do all the work despite my poor health… They tried to portray me as a mentally ill person and took me to a psychiatrist. They made me lose my entire life and turned it around against me,” she wrote.
‘Her parents stopped me from giving Anliya treatment’: Justin
On January 17, two days before he surrendered before the court, Justin uploaded an audio clip in which he is supposedly talking to a reporter, on his YouTube channel. In the video, which is loaded with pictures of the couple on various occasions, he alleges that Anliya exhibited strange behaviours and that her family, despite knowing this, stopped him from giving her the right treatment.
While Anliya’s last WhatsApp messages to get brother showed that Justin was with her at the Thrissur railway station on August 25, Justin has another version. “The day Anliya went missing, she called me around 4.30 pm and told me that she is leaving, not to come searching for her and to take care of our child; she then cut the call. When I tried calling her back, her phone was switched off. I suspected something was wrong and approached the police," he can be heard saying.
Justin and his family did not turn up for Anliya's funeral. To this, Justin can be heard countering, that her parents and relatives refused to perform the final rites in their native in Thrissur, and instead they did it in Ernakulam. "On our way to Ernakulam, the priest of the church asked us not to come there as it may lead to conflict. We approached the Vadakkekara police (Ernakulam), asking for protection. However, the police asked us to stay away for the time being as they did not have the sufficient police force. We reached there after the funeral, once the relatives left,” he said.
Regarding Anliya's diary, which served as evidence in the case, Justin said that when he discovered it, he and his family reportedly approached Hygenous. "When we pointed out Anliya's notes that alluded to suicidal tendencies, her father brushed it aside as her childish behaviour. He said he will talk to her and also asked us not to discuss the diary with anybody,” he said.
Justin alleges that a few months after the wedding, Anliya started exhibiting ‘odd behaviour’, including staying awake in the night. He can also be heard talking about an incident where he claims that Anliya threw their child on a bed. "I took her to a hospital, where the doctors said she was suffering from personality disorder. The doctor suggested treatment. Her family, however, said that such treatments would affect their status and stopped me from pursuing treatment. If I had shown some courage then, Anliya would have been with me today,” he said.
“Anliya's parents are making every effort to ensure Anliya gets justice. But if they had tried to ensure she was fine when she was alive, or at least acted when they heard I supposedly was abusing her, it would not have ended up in her death. Why didn't they enquire about it when I intimated them?”Justin asked, adding, “While most people would want to divorce someone who had suicidal tendencies, I wished to give her treatment. I have never cheated Anliya and I have never abused her.”
‘Informed father about the abuses’: Priest
Hygenous also suspects the involvement of the priest who was once their close family friend, in the death of Anliya.
Speaking to TNM, Hygenous had said, “The priest was close to our family. However, once, before her death, my daughter had asked me to not let him (the priest) inside our house and that she lost trust in men. So one can understand what she meant. Besides, on the day of my daughter’s funeral, he came to warn me, that if I pursue a case against Justin, he will support the latter.”
The priest refuted these claims and said he never had any relationship with Justin and his family, reported Manorama.
The priest, while claiming that Anliya never had any mental illness, however, revealed that he knew about the abuse in Anliya’s marriage and that Justin used to beat her. “I had asked Hygenous to come down to India and do the needful. I even told him about her hint for a divorce. He did not do it then. I abandoned the case then,” the report quotes him, adding, “She has been pampered and coddled.”