Death of newly wed dalit woman in Thrissur, family alleges foul play


Thrissur: Alleging foul play in the suspicious death of the dalit woman Akhila Vathaekaden in Madavakara region of Thrissur, the family members of the deceased have filed a complaint before superintendent of police(SP). 24-year-old Akhila, a native of Kaduppassery and daughter of Haridasan and Sujatha was found hanging at her husband's house on August 28, five months after her marriage with Akhil in Madavakara. Though Akhila's family promptly filed a case in Puthukad police station, there was no progress in the investigation as cops cited Covid-related operational difficulty. It is in this context that the family decided to file a complaint with SP. The family members point out that Akhila would not die by suicide and her husband's family has a role in her death.

Akhila who belongs to sc community was married to Akhil Kovalath of Ezhuthachan community in Madavakara. Akhil was working abroad and flew down for marriage. Though family members of Akhila were not interested in inter-caste marriage, Akhil's family persuaded and convinced her family. It was Akhil's second marriage and his family maintained that he was legally divorced after his first wife eloped with another person. It was also found out that Akhil's brother's wife had also left him. All these factors triggered Akhila's family to have further review of the marriage proposal . However, Akhila persisited with her family to go ahead with the proposal which came through a matrimonial platform.

Initially after marriage everything was going fine, but sooner some discord was visible, said Akhila's family members. There are allegations that Akhil and his family members used to make casteist slurs against Akhila over dowry. According to Akhila's brother Anagh, Akhil and his family members forcefully fed her with medicines and took her to infertility treatment to have a baby at the earliest as Akhil had to go abroad. It reportedly made her weak. Apparently, the members of Akhil's family also restricted her from eating food as it may increase in her weight and cited that gaining weight may delay the pregnancy. Akhila's family claims that Akhil's family had a superstitious belief that if Akhil is not becoming a father by the age of 27, he will not become a father in his lifetime. In the 5 months of relationship, Akhila reportedly had conceived once but it ended in a miscarriage.

Anagh pointed out that days after marriage Akhil titled a short film as 'Akhil's First Night' 'and sent him a first look poster. Though the family members of Akhila found it odd, Akhil justified that it was an 'interesting name'. However, Anagh added that he was not fully aware about the short film or whether it went on to production phase. But he pinpointed that there were some issues over this short film and a month before Akhila's death many were visiting Akhil's house in association with the short film. Similarly, Anagh said that the social media post of Akhil which showed him with some models during his visit to Bangalore was problematic.

The deceased in her talks with her own mother hinted about the ordeal and had said that she felt like a maid at Akhil's home. But she was not ready to open up regarding anything in detail, said Akhila's mother Sujatha. The family members of Akhila now assume that Akhila might have been in a dilemma as she herself asked them to carry forward with the proposal. The family members of Akhila thought that the issue between Akhil and Akhila might have been over some silly issues.

During her phone calls Akhila used to talk at lengths, but since a month before her death she interacted with them less. Akhil's phone reportedly had some issues and he was also using Akhila's phone frequently . Two days before her death, when Akhila visited her home she had asked her father Haridasan to visit Akhil's home and talk to the members in the family. However, she did not mention what Haridasan should talk about. Akhila was found hanging on Akhil's house the day Haridasan was planning to visit Akhil's home.

Meanwhile, Akhil's family maintains that Akhila died by suicide. It was Akhil's brother who first informed Akhila's family about her death. Usually Akhil's mother used to live with Akhil and Akhila in their home. But on the day before Akhila was found hanging, the mother was reportedly in an ancestral house. When Akhila's family reached the home after knowing about the death, there were police and locals around Akhil's home.

In another development Akhil's former wife and her husband visited Akhila's house after her death. The former wife claims that she did not elope with anybody but escaped from the physical and mental toture by Akhil and his family.The three cases filed against him by her family are still pending in Irinjalakauda Magistrate Court and Family Court. The woman also extended her support to Akhila's family and their legal fight.

The probe over the suspicious death is going on and more details on forensic and postmortem are awaited. Akhila's family is hopeful that the investigation will progress properly.

Dr. R. Bindu, Minister for Higher Education and Social Justice, who won from the constituency visited Akhila's family and assured all support. Similarly, Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha ( KPMS ) has also come forward to support the family.

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