A court in South India’s Kerala district sentenced ten men to life in prison Tuesday for murdering a Dalit Christian man for wanting to marry an upper-caste woman.
Dalits in India are considered the lowest caste (untouchables) by upper-caste people. Even though the caste system is a product of Hinduism, Christians and Muslims have also adopted the system in their communities.
Moreover, Christians and Muslims are minority communities in India subjected to daily harassment and even lynching by the majority Hindu community.
Kevin P Joseph, a 23-year-old electrician was murdered by the woman’s brother and nine others in May last year after he applied to register his marriage with Neenu Chacko, who is a higher caste Christian.
The presiding judge described this as a case of “honor killing” which is rampant in India, mainly north India where young couples are often killed for ruining the “honor” of the family by marrying outside caste, religion or even for marrying against families’ wishes.
The judge said the only reason the perpetrators were not handed out death sentences was due to the age of the accused and that it was their first account.
Chacko’s brother Sanu Chacko was accused of returning to Kerala from his job in the Gulf to take part in the assassination.
The couple began dating in 2016. On May 2018 they filed for civil marriage and four days later. Joseph’s body was found in a stream. Neenu Chacko’s father allegedly hired assassins with the help of a local politician. The father was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Neenu Chacko testified against her relatives. She said, “This is a fight for Kevin.”
Joseph’s father said he would have preferred death sentences for the perpetrators but he was satisfied with the sentences. He said that Neenu Chacko, a masters student of geology, have gone through enough and wants her to continue her