As this calendar year comes to an end, TNM recollects some of the events, incidents and judgments that impacted Kerala significantly in 2018.

Floods Sabarimala nuns protest Santosh Trophy A glimpse of Kerala in 2018
news Kerala 2018 Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - 19:59

2018 is a year that Kerala and its people will never forget. The chequered calendar year is marked with bouts of incidents that ominously impacted the state as well as events and judgements that the people in Kerala welcomed and objected to.

The worst floods of the century, the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court on the Sabarimala women’s entry case, the ensuing massive protests and attacks on women and journalists, days of hunger strike by Kerala nuns against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mullakal and the Santosh trophy victory for football after several years, among other notable events - Kerala had a roller coaster ride.

Here are some of the big events that shaped the State this year.

Mobbing and murder of  Madhu, an Adivasi man

On February 22, a 30-year-old tribal man from Attapadi in Kerala was beaten to death by a gang of at least 15 men. Madhu was accosted by an irate mob who accused him of theft. He was beaten up and then handed over to the police. Madhu collapsed and passed away in a police jeep while he was being taken to a Government Tribal Specialty Hospital at Kottathara. What shocked the state were the photos, selfies and a video that circulated on social media, which were taken with Madhu just before he was beaten to death by the mob.

Kerala won 72 Santosh trophy title 

In April this year, Kerala won the prestigious Santosh Trophy title for football beating West Bengal 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shootout at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. This win, which is the State’s 6th win, comes after a gap of several years. The last time both Kerala and West Bengal played against each other was in 1993-94. West Bengal had won 5-3 on penalties after extra time. Kerala’s big win this year also denied West Bengal its 33rd win in a row.

Nipah virus

In May this year, a deadly virus epidemic seized Kerala and claimed over 18 lives in a span of days. The Nipah epidemic, which reportedly spread from Soopikada area in Perambra, Kozhikode, shook the state, affecting its tourism and economy. Non-resident Malayalis from other states were advised not to travel to Kerala.  Thousands of people, who were thought to have come in contact with the victims, were quarantined. The epidemic, which was found to have spread from fruit bats, claimed the lives of five members of a single family in Soopikada, where the virus was found to have originated.

Caste killing: Kevin murder case 

In a shocking murder case in the state, a 23-year-old boy, Kevin P Joseph, from Kottayam was abducted by a gang of men and killed hours after he married his girlfriend of two years, Neenu, on May 26. Investigations revealed that the woman’s family had planned and executed the murder as they were opposed the marriage. Kevin is a Dalit Christian and the Neenu's father is a Christian, while her mother is a Muslim. Her brother had opposed the wedding. According to Kevin's friend Aneesh (30), who was also abducted and beaten up severely by the gang, the accused had let him off after he agreed to bring Neenu back to the family, on being blackmailed.

AMMA’s decision to bring accused Dileep back on board 

In an event that exposed the Malayalam industry’s allegiances post the 2017 actor sexual assault case, four prominent women actors and Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) members, including the survivor, resigned the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA). Actors Remya Nambeessan, Geetu Mohandas and Rima Kallingal wrote letters stating that they have resigned from the association, following the AMMA General Body meeting held in June, in which it was decided to reinstate Dileep - the actor accused of masterminding the 2017 actor assault case in Kerala - back into its fold. Under its newly elected president Mohanlal, the association was accused by the actors of unilaterally taking this decision.

Abhimanyu murder case

In a student murder that caught the attention of the entire State, a 20-year-old SFI activist from Maharaja’s College in Kochi was stabbed to death on the campus on July 1. Abhimanyu, a second-year BSc Chemistry student from Idukki, was murdered following an alleged clash between the SFI and the Campus Front workers (youth wing of the Popular Front of India), over who gets to paint a wall on the campus to welcome the new batch of students. A group of 15 members was involved in the attack on Abhimanyu, who was stabbed in the heart, according to the police. Following Abhimanyu’s murder, the government ordered a massive crackdown on the SDPI (political wing of PFI) cadre in the State, detaining hundreds of workers in the process.

Kerala floods 

July and August were arguably the worst months in the history of Kerala, as the state witnessed floods it has never experienced in over a century.  When the state recorded 3,368 mm rainfall for three continuous weeks, most of the state was submerged due to overflowing dams, which had to be opened at the last moment. Over 400 people lost their lives and a monetary loss of 40,000 crores was reported post floods. The state government sought help from army, navy and air force, along with NDRF personnel, to help those stranded in their houses. Commuting came to a standstill as the Kochi airport was shut down for over a week. Most districts, too, were cut off from each other due to flooded national and state highways.

Prior to the August deluge, a mini-flood due to massive rains, too, had affected parts of Kochi and Alappuzha, during the last weeks of July.

Musician Balabhaskar’s tragic death in car accident 

On October 2, Kerala lost one of its most cherished musical talents. Noted singer and violinist Balabhaskar and his family met with a car accident in Thiruvananthapuram on September 25. While the musician sustained grave injuries and was hospitalised, his two-year-old daughter Tejaswini died on the spot. Balabhaskar had been on ventilator support as his lungs were severely damaged in the accident. He passed away after seven days. His wife Lakshmi and a friend Arjun, too, sustained injuries but were out of danger. The family was driving from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram early morning on September 25 when their car crashed into a tree.

Kerala nun protest against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal

In what can only be called as the Catholic Church’s MeToo movement, five nuns from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuruvilangad, Kottayam, protested for over 13 days to get rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal arrested. The Bishop, who heads the Jalandhar diocese of Missionaries of Jesus, was accused of repeatedly raping a nun from the Kerala convent. Despite the survivor filing a police complaint against the Bishop in June, no action was taken against the Bishop. It finally took the five nuns from the convent and a powerful 13-day long protest to get the Bishop arrested on September 21. He was taken into custody after a three-day long interrogation by the Kerala police. However, the accused was granted conditional bail by the Kerala High Court.

The Sabarimala judgment

In a historic verdict, the ripples of which Kerala is still facing three months later, the Supreme Court allowed entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala on September 24. The verdict led to massive protests in the state, with the Congress, the BJP and several right-wing outfits protesting against the verdict and demanding that the government file review petitions asking the top court to reconsider its judgement. Violent protests broke out at the temple when it opened for the first time in October post the verdict. Several protestors were arrested en masse by the police. Despite the verdict and police protection, no women have entered the temple yet, due to protestors blocking and heckling them during their climb.

MeToo wave hits Kerala, too 

The MeToo wave, which hit India in September, also impacted Kerala with two prominent journalists - CP Surendran and C Gauridasan Nair (from The Hindu) - being accused of sexual harassment by various women, on Twitter. Following the allegations, Surendran, who is also a noted poet and author, stepped back from the Mathrubhmi festival of letters. As for Gauridasan Nair, the Hindu Group Chairman N Ram had tweeted that he resigned from his post of Resident Editor of The Hindu in Kerala following the allegations.

Sanal Kumar death

The State witnessed another shocking murder on November 5, when a 32-year old electrician, Sanal Kumar, was pushed in front of a moving vehicle by the DySP of Neyyatinkara B Harikumar during an argument between the two. Following Sanal’s death, the DySP went absconding for several days and was finally found dead in his house in Varkala on November 13. Sanal’s wife Viji and their two sons are currently protesting before the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram as the State government has refused to pay any compensation to the aggrieved family.

Kerala church feud 

In a fresh controversy in the Kerala church, two factions - Malankara Orthodox Church and Jacobite Syrian Church - have clashed following the July 3 Supreme Court verdict, which stated that 1100 churches under the Malankara Diocese be managed by the Orthodox faction of the church. The Jacobite faction members took objection to this judgement, causing Jacobites in some churches to block attempts by Orthodox clergymen to enter their churches and conduct services. This conflict has seen spats over church management in a number of churches, including at Piravom and Kothamangalam. The clash also resulted in a 95-year-old Jacobite man being refused burial for a week due to the friction between the two churches.

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.