Women enter Sabarimala, Jolly murders and more: 5 events that rocked Kerala in 2019
Two women under the age of 50, Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga, climbed Sabarimala and performed darshan at the Ayyappa temple on January 2. This was amidst rigorous protests against the Supreme Court order of September 28 last year allowing women of all ages to enter the temple, located in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta.
Though Bindu and Kanakadurga tried to climb the shrine in December 2018, they had to return owing to mass protests. Bindu Ammini (43) is a lawyer while Kanakadurga (39) is an employee with the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation. They got acquainted with each other through a Facebook page for those who backed the entry of young women into Sabarimala.
In September, Kerala got a jolt as a sensational crime saga unraveled. Six people in a family had died in a span of 14 years. The deaths which were believed to be either by suicide or due to cardiac arrest or other diseases were all murders by one woman, who had plotted them from years, the police claimed. 47-year old Jolly Amma Joseph's life came under close scrutiny after the dead bodies were exhumed from their graves on October 4. The deceased included Tom Jose, a retired educational department officer, his wife Annamma - a retired teacher, their son Roy Thomas, relative Cily and her daughter two-year old Alphine. The series of deaths began when Annamma Thomas died after consuming mutton soup in 2002.
The investigation began in September after Roy's brother Rojo, who lives abroad, filed a complaint. Police took Jolly into custody on October 5 after reopening Roy Thomas' death case. Her arrest was followed by the arrest of Mathew, a jewelry store owner and Praji Kumar a gold smith who allegedly procured and supplied cyanide to Jolly.
In November, a medical board comprised of neurosurgeons, general medicine doctors and forensic surgeons of Kozhikode Medical College confirmed all the six deaths happened due to poisoning. The report also stated that poisoning could be due to a poison like cyanide.
Shehla Sherin's death
Ten-year old Shehla Sherin was a student of Sarvajana HSS in Sultan Bathery. On November 20, at around 3.15 pm, she was bitten by a snake in her class room. She informed the teacher about it but the latter's response was that the injury had been caused due to a nail.
According to her classmates, Shehla was kept waiting for 45 minutes though her leg had begun to turn blue. Despite pleas by other kids, the teacher allegedly refused to take her to hospital in any of the vehicles which were available at the campus at that time. Instead he kept on insisting that Shehla's father should come.
Though Shehla's father took her to a private hospital, she was referred to Vythiri Taluk Hospital. From there Shehla was sent to Kozhikode Medical College. But her life couldn't be saved. The state government has ordered two inquiries into the incident. The school authorities however put the blame on the hospital for the delay.
IAS officer allegedly hits and kills journalist with car
KM Basheer, the Thiruvananthapuram bureau chief of the Siraj newspaper, was killed on August 3 after his bike was hit by a car.
The car was driven allegedly by IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman. The 35-year old journalist could not be saved though he was shifted to the Medical College Hospital. Sriram was allegedly drunk at the time of the accident and the police have been accused of inordinately delaying conducting a medical examination of the officer.
Sister Abhaya case
The trial in the 27-year-old Sister Abhaya murder case began at the CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram on July 11.
Sister Abhaya, a 19-year-old inmate of the Pius X Convent in Kottayam, was found dead in a well within the convent compound on March 27, 1992. Though initially the Crime Branch which probed the case called it a suicide, the case was reopened by the CBI in 1993 on the suspicion that it was a murder.
In September-October, the Palakkad sessions court acquitted four men accused in the deaths of two minor sisters, 13 and 9 years old, in Walayar in Palakad district. It was after the death of the younger girl that five men, including a juvenile, were charged with rape, sexual assault and abetment to suicide, barring charges of murder. The Palakkad sessions court acquitted the accused in the absence of direct or circumstantial evidence. The children’s mother challenged the acquittal in the Kerala High Court in November.
The older girl was found dead in the family’s one-room house on the afternoon of January 13, 2017.
Fifty-two days later, her younger sister was found dead in the same room on the evening of March 4. The girls used to live in the house along with their parents.