The husbands of two women in Kerala, who allegedly died because of dowry harassment, have been taken into custody, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.

The first case was reported from the state’s Kollam district on Monday. A 22-year-old woman, identified as Vismaya V Nair, was found hanging in her in-laws’ house in Sasthamnada village.

In another incident on Tuesday, 24-year-old Archana was found dead after suffering severe burn injuries in her home in Venganoor city of Thiruvananthapuram district, according to Mathrubhumi.

The police arrested the husbands of Nair and Archana on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express.

Kollam district

In the case in Kollam district, Nair’s husband, S Kiran Kumar, was arrested after he surrendered. A local court sent him to judicial remand after the police booked him under section 304 (B) that deals with dowry-related deaths. Kumar, an assistant vehicle inspector, has been suspended from service, according to The Indian Express.

The woman’s family has alleged that she was murdered. They added that Nair, who was a final-year Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery student, was assaulted for dowry on multiple occasions.

Two days before her death, Nair had sent messages to her cousin detailing the brutal domestic violence by her husband. In the messages to her cousin, Nair said that she has not told anyone else about the assault. She also shared photos with her cousin showing injuries on her face, shoulder and hands. Nair and Kumar got married in May 2020.

Thiruvananthapuram district

In the case in Thiruvananthapuram district, Archana’s husband, Suresh, had accompanied her back to the couple’s home from the woman’s parent’s house on Monday. Archana’s father claimed that Suresh was seen carrying a bottle of diesel but had then explained that it was to tackle the infestation of ants in their home, according to the Hindustan Times. The couple got married in 2020.

“Both [Nair and Archana] incidents are heart-rending,” said Kerala’s women commission member Shahida Kamal. “It is sad despite a good education and economic background many are succumbing to the dowry menace. We need stricter provisions to curb this.”

Suresh had reportedly tried to flee after Archana was found dead, but the police were able to catch him.

Kerala sets up helpline

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday announced a round-the-clock helpline (94979 96992) for women to report about harassment for dowry, domestic violence and other crimes, reported The Hindu.

Vijayan said the illegal practice of dowry had cropped up in the state again. He said that district police chiefs in the state would directly act on complaints received at this helpline and also through the email id –

Vijayan added that the Pathanamthitta District Police Chief R Nishanthini was the nodal officer. The Kerala Police Commissioner would oversee the follow-up action on the complaints received on the helpline, reported The Hindu.

The Vijayan-led government also said that it would include gender equality in the state’s school curriculum. The chief minister said Kerala would not let misplaced anti-feminist notions prevail in a progressive society.

The Kerala Police have recorded 212 dowry-related deaths in the last 13 years, according to The New Indian Express.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and Kerala’s Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister Chinchu Rani visited the families of Nair and Archana on Tuesday, according to the Hindustan Times. Congress’ unit Kerala unit chief K Sudhakaran said that the state had to “ensure such ugly incidents” do not recur.

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Kerala woman found dead in in-laws’ house, husband accused of domestic violence surrenders