Kerala has seen several cases of stalking-turned-murder since 2017, where the man stalks and harasses the woman for months, and then resorts to violence when she turns down his overtures. In two recent cases, although it was brought to the attention of the police, they did not file a complaint, and instead counselled and let off the stalker, who later went on to kill the victims. Besides, there has not been an active campaign, awareness programme or earnest response from the Kerala government on such crimes against women.
But on Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan finally addressed the issue in the state Assembly. Stating that eight cases of men stalking and murdering women in Kerala have been filed from 2016 until now, he said, “The government views such cases seriously.” The CM was responding to a question raised by Trikaripur MLA M Rajagopal at the Assembly session.
According to Pinarayi Vijayan, the state government is taking action as per the existing provisions of the law. Among the eight cases registered, while three accused men died, the accused in five other cases have been arrested and necessary action has been taken. Two cases are under investigation and in other cases, chargesheet has been submitted in court in other cases, he added.
However, instead of holding the police accountable for preventing these crimes, the Chief Minister focussed on the emotional health of adolescents. “As a society, there is an urgent need to take precautions to prevent such crimes in future. In many cases, we lose young people to such crimes,” he said, identifying lack of emotional intelligence among children and adolescents as one of the reasons behind such incidents.
“Teachers must be trained to identify developmental, emotional and behavioural issues that children face, as well as usage of drugs among youth, intervene and take necessary steps as per the government’s health policy,” he said.
The CM said he has asked the education department to take steps to spend time with children, and create awareness among parents as well about the occurrence of such incidents. “By adopting and following such precautions, the government believes such crimes can be curbed. We are working towards this,” the CM said.
Over 10 cases of stalking were reported by the media in Kerala, of which, two women survived.
In 2016, 28-year-old Praveen Kumar, a lorry driver, dragged her then former fiancee, a 19-year-old from Munnar, from her class and started beating her up, for refusing to accept his proposal again.
In February 2017, Reshmi, a 21-year-old medical student was set ablaze by a 26-year-old man in Kottayam. The man also killed himself. She succumbed to her injuries the following day.
In July 2017, a 17-year-old girl from Pathanamthitta was set on fire after she was attacked by Sajil.
In March 2019, Kavitha Vijaykumar, a 20-year-old BTech student from Pathanamthitta, succumbed to her burn injuries after 18-year-old Ajin Reji Mathew followed her en route to her classes and set her on fire.
In April 2019, Neethu, 21-year-old engineering student in Thrissur, was at home with her grandmother, when her stalker, 32-year-old Nidheesh, barged into her house and set her on fire.
In June 2019, Soumya Pushpakaran, a 34-year-old Civil Police Officer in Alappuzha, was returning home after work when Ajaz chased her, stabbed her and then set her ablaze.
In October 2019, Ramya, a 17-year-old student in Kochi’s Kakkanad, was doused in fire, set on fire and killed by Mithun, a man in his 20s.
In January 2020, Kerala saw three crimes of stalking in a matter of 48 hours. While 19-year-old Ashika in Thiruvananthapuram was attacked and killed, 17-year-old girl in Kochi is still battling for her life. In the third case, the 17-year-old girl from Ernakulam was abducted from her school, killed and her body was dumped in Tamil Nadu.