Kevin murder conviction is the first honour killing conviction in Kerala.

Justice delivered for Kevin but our son isnt coming back say his parentsPicture courtesy - Vishnu Prathap
news Caste Killing Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - 19:07

On Tuesday, Kerala witnessed a judge handing out double life sentences to ten accused in the state’s first ‘honour killing’ conviction. As the families of the killers, who have attempted to delay and distort the trial several times, were present in court, an old couple sat at home in Nattassery of Kottayam district, struggling to contain their tears. Mary and Joseph, who lost their 23-year-old son Kevin whose only ‘mistake’ was to fall in love, felt simultaneously vindicated and hopeless as the sentencing was done. It’s not like my son is going to be brought back, Mary says. 

"What can I say? My son was killed. He must have pleaded for his life to them, but they still..." Mary breaks down. "I could not bear it even when he went to work abroad. I used to tell him to come back everyday. Now he is gone," she says. 

Kevin, a Dalit Christian man, was killed by his wife Neenu’s family right after they decided to get married. Neenu's brother, the prime convict in the case, and nine of his friends have been sentenced to double life imprisonment by the Principal Sessions Court in Kottayam. 

Sitting beside Kevin’s photograph and two lit candles, Joseph says he is not satisfied with the sentence. "We thought at least the main convicts in the case will get more stringent punishment,” he says, “We are disappointed that the court let the fifth accused Chacko go free.” Chacko John is Neenu’s father, who was acquitted.

The journey to justice has been emotionally draining for Kevin’s family. Until he was kidnapped, Kevin's parents had not even known that he was in a relationship. It was at the police station that they first met Neenu, the young woman with whom Kevin had planned his life ahead. 

Ever since the trial began, Joseph has attended court everyday – except on the days on which the verdict was supposed to be pronounced. 

Mary, however, stopped going to court a long time ago. "I could not sit there watching all the accused,” she says, “They were all happy as if nothing had happened. I could never control my tears at the sight of them. I used to cry till the court session would end. Therefore, I stopped going to court," says Mary. 

On Tuesday, however, when the convicts were finally sentenced by the sessions court, the smiles seemed to have been wiped off the face of the convicts and their families. As the judge C Jayachandran read out the sentence, the family members of most of convicts in the case broke down. 

Ten convicts in the case, including first accused Shanu Chacko – Neenu’s brother – have been sentenced to double life imprisonment, with a fine of Rs 25,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively in both sentences. In addition to the double life imprisonment, the convicts are also awarded separate punishments which can run concurrent with the life sentence awarded. The court has also directed that from the fine amount, a total of Rs 1 lakh will be given to Kevin's cousin and witness Aneesh Sebastian for the losses he incurred in the incident. It was from his house that Kevin was abducted by the convicts. The remaining fine amount will be equally shared between Kevin's father Joseph, and his wife Neenu.

The convicts had, during the trial, made several attempts to derail the proceedings. At one point, in an attempt to confuse the witness in the case, all the convicts and some of their family members came to court wearing similar clothes and got similar haircuts, too. The defence also tried to make a point about the ‘young age’ of the men involved in the murder – all of them in their twenties, just like Kevin. 

On Tuesday, as soon as the judge left the court after reading the judgement, families of the men who helped Shanu murder Kevin rushed to them and broke into loud wails. 

Prime convict Shanu’s parents, however, were composed. 

At home meanwhile, Mary, who is mourning the loss of her son, says she has not had even one good night of sleep since Kevin was murdered.

Also read: Justice for Kevin: Ten convicts sentenced to double life imprisonment by Kerala court

'Kevin case proves caste is a reality in Kerala': Activists welcome court judgment

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