'Say no to dowry': Kerala Governor to women; visits Vismaya's family
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Monday made an emotional appeal to women to say no to dowry when it was demanded during the time of marriages and expressed willingness to be part of any "organised" voluntary movement to create awareness against the menace.
Terming dowry as an "evil", he said a general social awareness should be created about its unholy aspects and urged NGOs or volunteers, who selflessly work for public causes, to create a special movement against it.
He was speaking after visiting the house of Vismaya, an Ayurveda medical student who was recently found dead in husband's house under mysterious circumstances after she had complained of dowry harassment, at Nilamel here.
The death of the newly-wed woman and a series of photos and WhatsApp chats, sent by her to relatives exposing the alleged mental and physical torture she suffered over dowry, has shaken the conscience of the society and kicked up a widespread debate on social media platforms against the decades-old menace.
During his brief visit, Khan consoled the grieving relatives of the 24-year old Vismaya and ensured them speedy justice, family sources said.
An emotional Khan later told reporters that any daughter of Kerala is like a daughter to him.
"For me, she (Vismaya) is like my daughter. Any daughter of Kerala is like my daughter. I feel like crying," he said when reporters asked about his unusual visit.
Stressing the need to formulate some "organised movement" against dowry, he said " It can be that if we come to know that there is some exchange of dowry, we will not attend the marriage."
If the boy's side demands dowry, then the girl's side should say that they were not going to go ahead with the proposal, he suggested.
The Governor said the girls must also be mentally prepared to say no to such proposals.
"I am ready to work as a volunteer and appeal to the organisations and volunteers to start something in an organised manner to create awareness and I shall be fully associated with them," he said adding that if somebody demanded dowry, they should be told in very stern terms that this marriage or this relationship cannot go ahead.
Khan also urged the girls' family not to entertain such demands.
Stating that Kerala is far ahead compared to many other states in terms of higher education, social welfare and health standards, he, however, said there would be certain human weakness howsoever good or better you become.
"Certain evils...and dowry is an evil," he said.
Though laws are quite strong and taking care of such crimes effectively, awareness is necessary to fight such menace and media could play a greater role in it, he said adding that the southern state would have no dearth of volunteers for the initiative.
This is one place where a young girl, after the floods, created a website asking youngsters to register as volunteers and within 24 hours 73,000 youngsters get registered and the government had to tell them that they would call them when they need their service, the Governor added.
Vismaya was found hanging in the bathroom of her husband's house at Sasthamkotta in this south Kerala district last week.
Her husband S Kiran Kumar, an assistant motor vehicle inspector, since suspended, was arrested later on a complaint by her parents and brother, alleging that he had tortured and harassed her over dowry.
The Kerala Women's Commission had taken up a case on its own in the incident and directed the Kollam Rural SP to submit a report.
A day before the incident, Vismaya had sent WhatsApp messages to her relatives over the alleged harassment by Kumar over dowry, as well as photos of wounds and marks of beatings on her body.
Her father told a TV channel that 100 sovereigns of gold and over one acre land, besides a Rs 10 lakh worth car was given as dowry to Kumar during the wedding in 2020.
But Kumar did not like the car and wanted Rs 10 lakh in cash.
As he was told it was not possible, he used to torture her, the father had said.