Kottayam/Thiruvananthapuram: In a suspected case of honour killing, a 23-year-old man, allegedly abducted by a gang of men engaged by his fiancee's relatives, was found dead in a river in Kollam district on Monday, police said.
Relatives of Kevin P Joseph alleged that he was tortured and killed by the gang engaged by his fiancees brother, two days after they filed a joint application for marriage registration at a sub-registrar office near Thiruvananthapuram.
The abduction and killing of the man has triggered widespread protests by the Congress and other opposition parties in Kottayam district.
The BJP has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the district tomorrow in protest against the incident. Kevin and his relative Aneesh were abducted early on Sunday from the latter's residence by the gang that arrived in three vehicles.
The gang later left Aneesh by the roadside after torturing him brutally, police said.
He is currently admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
Kevin's body was found floating in the river at Chaliyakkara, some 20 km from Thenmala in Kollam district, on Monday morning.
His body has been brought to government medical college, in Thiruvananthapuram, for post-mortem.
A case has been registered against 10 persons including his fiancee's brother in connection with the incident.
The victim's kin alleged that Kevin died due to police laxity as they refused to institute an investigation on the basis of his fiance's complaint on Sunday.
The 19-year-old woman, who was staying in a hostel in Kottayam, had filed a 'missing complaint' with police on Sunday.
Kevin and the woman, who is studying in a college in Kottayam, had submitted the joint marriage registration application at the sub-registrar's office on Friday.
Earlier reports had said they had already entered into wedlock.
The woman's relatives were allegedly upset with her for going against the wishes of her family.
The woman belongs to a wealthy family in Kollam district while Kevin, hailing from Kumaranallore near here, was not affluent.
Both Kevin and the woman were earlier summoned to the Gandhinagar police station based on her family's complaint.
The woman, however, preferred to go with Kevin.
Kerala Human Rights Commission said it was suspected to be a case of honour killing and ordered the state police chief to submit a report in three weeks if there was any negligence from the side of the police in investigating the case.
Meanwhile, police said Sub-Inspector M S Shibu and Grade ASI Sunnymon of the Gandhinagar police station were on Monday suspended by Ernakulam Range IG Vijay Sahkare for laxity.
Kottayam District Superintendent of Police V M Mohammed Rafique has been transferred following the incident, they said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan described the incident as "unfortunate" and said it should not have happened. Police in Kottayam and Thenmala in Kollam, from where the body was recovered, were investigating the case and all efforts were being made to nab the accused as early as possible, he said.
Besides, a Special Investigation team would also probe the crime, he added. Vijayan also denied reports that police showed laxity in investigating the case initially.
Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, attacked Vijayan, who is also holding the Home portfolio, over the incident.
He urged Vijayan to quit the Home portfolio in view of such incidents in the state due to "inefficient policing."
Opposition parties alleged that activists of DYFI, a youth wing of the CPI(M), were part of the gang of men who allegedly committed the heinous crime.
The DYFI state secretariat, however, rejected the allegations.
The organisation said in a release that two of their activists, who were allegedly part of the gang, were the woman's relatives.
They have been expelled from the DYFI's primary membership following the incident, it said.