Updated: July 15, 2021 6:18:29 am
Days after he visited the home of a suspected dowry death victim, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, in an unprecedented move, observed a 10-hour fast from 8 am Wednesday at the Raj Bhavan to create awareness against the practice of dowry. Afterward, he joined an evening prayer meeting organised by various Gandhian organisations.
The evil social practice of dowry had recently rocked the state with the suspected suicide of Vismaya V Nair, a 24-year-old Ayurveda student, on June 21.
Nair was found dead at her in-law’s house in Kollam district, allegedly a fallout of dowry harassment. In a rare gesture from Raj Bhavan, Khan had visited Nair’s home and comforted her parents.
On Wednesday, an official communication from Raj Bhavan said Khan joined the fast to create awareness against dowry in response to a call made by Gandhian organisations.
Addressing the prayer meeting, which marked the end of the fast, Khan said he had spoken with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and that th latter was enthusiastic about the gesture and said it deserves encouragement.
Khan said he plans to ask all legislators and other public representatives to strengthen the campaign against the social evil, and help embolden people to say no to wedding proposals involving dowry demands.
He also said he would instruct universities to ask students to give an undertaking that they would not seek or give dowry. If they are later found violating this, and if a court indicts them, the university should cancel their degrees, he said.
Cutting across the political divide, all three key political parties in the state welcomed Khan’s move.
Leader of Opposition, Congress’s V D Satheesan, said safety of women has emerged as a key issue in the state. “The propriety of a Governor undertaking such a fast is a different issue but that is the Governor’s discretion…. We see (in the light) that the Governor has reacted to a social issue…”
Senior BJP leader from Kerala and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan tweeted, “This inspiring gesture, by Hon’ble @KeralaGovernor, inspired by the true Gandhian way, strengthens peoples’ movements against the practice of dowry and helps to end atrocities against women in the name of dowry.’’
CPI(M) politburo member M A Baby said, “It can be seen that the Governor has realised the importance of conducting such a programme against dowry…. People may say the situation for women is much worse in the Governor’s home state, Uttar Pradesh…. It would have been much better if the Kerala Governor had roped in his counterparts in other states for such a fast.”