It was a year that started with the entry of two women in the Sabarimala temple. Even as Kerala continued to debate the Sabarimala issue over many months, there were other news events too that dominated the narrative. From serial murders to the unfortunate death of Shehla Sherin, 2019 has been a mixed bag. Here is a list of important stories from the state.
Two women enter Sabarimala temple
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.