Kerala has stood first in country's literacy table once again, with 96.2 per cent literacy. It is 95.2 per cent among women and 97.4 among men, as per the National Sample Survey report for the period from July 2017 to Jun 2018 – a very creditable achievement for every Malayalee to hold his head high. The government and people of Kerala had also held their heads in pride when Covid-19 broke out in the country, and the state became a model for preventing the pandemic early. But a head held so high with such feats, has now come to be lowered to a shameful level with certain seamy events reported in news media over the last few days.
One of them is the incident in which a junior health inspector who took a young quarantined woman from Bharathannur, on the pretext of issuing covid-negative certificate and sexually abused her from Thursday afternoon until the next morning. When the woman arrived at the first floor residence of the culprit, the man molested her, and the woman tried to offer defence but only to be beaten on the back of her head and her hands tied at the back and legs to a bed. Her mouth stuffed with cloth, she continued to be brutally abused till the next morning, as per the First Information Report (FIR). After the police arrested the culprit and started processing the case, the man has been suspended from service. Every one including the health minister has condemned the dastardly act.
The second incident reported from Aranmula is similar to, if not more horrifying than the first. A twenty-year old woman was being carried on a 108 ambulance (Covid special fleet) along with a middle-aged woman and the latter was dropped midway. The driver than drove the young woman to an apparently pre-planned location and there raped her brutally, as narrated by the police who caught the reprehensible criminal hailing from Kayamkulam. The woman informed the police after reaching the hospital following which the accused driver was dismissed from his job. It has since transpired that he was a murder case accused.
It was only a few days ago that the police arrested a truck driver for cruelly abusing an old woman, along with an accomplice and her husband for facilitating the crime. Even as such reports of torture keep coming, the news atmosphere of the state is abuzz with allegations and counter-allegations surrounding the huge gold smuggling scandal involving the Thiruvananthapuram consulate of a foreign country in an incident that put even the chief minister's office in the dock. This is a case with dimensions much more than that of mere smuggling which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Customs are investigating in their own jurisdictions. However, rumours are doing rounds that with the case reaching a stage when heads of some high-ups will have to roll, the investigation is heading to a stalemate.
In the meantime, as per most recent reports, the drugs smuggling case which was booked by Karnataka police with its wide network of distribution, has engulfed the state of Kerala too. The racket, involving men and women alike, is said to be inseparably linked to the film world, with which the son of the leader of CPM in Kerala has close connections. Though the allegations are yet to be proven, in its detail, it cannot be easily dismissed as untrue. Most of the news emanating about these incidents have one common streak, i.e. night parties with liquor and drugs form the main menu. After all, when during Covid GST revenue had a deep fall in all other segments, the only sector where it recorded a spurt was that of liquor bars!
To put it briefly, literate Kerala is enlightened and tops the table in several parameters of human development index. But at the same time, now the state seems to be in a race to be number one in criminality too. The government, political parties and the society in general are all equally responsible for this. Under the magic spell of development and progress, the urge to make money in any manner even trampling on moral values and the propensity to spend the so earned money for any immorality has permeated into rulers, officials of law and order, political parties and people's representatives.
Not only that there is no effort to eradicate this virus, more lethal than corona, the current tendency to attribute a political colour to any issue lets the culprits have an easy escape route. Be it murder, rape, robbery or smuggling, when the perpetrators are caught, the first research undertaken is on which party they are affiliated to. That is followed by a rain of allegations and counter-allegations. And the focus of the media, especially TV channels and social media, is to compete with one another in celebrating this. If Kerala has not entirely lost its breed of humanitarian souls with integrity and certitude, they have an obligation to stem this pernicious tide.