'When I opened the door, he pulled my hair, hit me and abused me," this message from 22-year-old Vismaya Nair to her friend in June 2021 had sent shock waves in Kerala, after she was found dead a few days later.
On Monday, 23 May, less than a year after Vismaya's death, her husband Kiran Kumar has now been convicted of her death. The verdict was pronounced by the Kollam Additional Sessions Court Judge Sujith KN.
Vismaya V Nair, who was doing Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicines, was found dead at her marital home in Kollam on 21 June 2021.
She was 22 years old and hailed from Nilamel, near Kadakkal of Kollam district. Her death came two days after she sent messages to her cousin telling him that her husband had brutally beaten her many times over a car that was given as part of her dowry.
The trial had been going on for about four months and the verdict came around 11 months after Vismaya's death.
Just a day before the verdict, a chilling voice recording surfaced, purportedly that of Vismaya and her father. In the audio, the voice reportedly that of Vismaya is heard crying and complaining about the harassment faced at the hands of Kiran.
“If I’m made to live here, you will not see me again,” the audio says. “I will do something, I cannot bear it anymore. Acha (dad), I want to come back. I’m scared, I will be beaten,” Vismaya is heard saying, in tears. Though her father consoles her, she keeps on crying and says that she is in fear.
In 2021, days before her death, Vismaya had sent her cousin some WhatsApp messages where she had narrated that she has faced severe assault. She wrote about how after assaulting her, her husband allegedly pulled back her hair and stamped on her face. She says in the message that she has not told anyone about the assault.
The photos she shared with her cousin show injuries on her face, shoulder and hands. This was also one of the primary evidence submitted to the court during the trial.
Driven to Death
After her death, Vismaya’s father had then told the police that the family had given 100 sovereigns, one acre of land and a Toyota Yaris car as dowry, but he wanted a different car model and more cash. Her father Thrivrikaman Nair had told The News Minute (TNM) after her death that the family knew Kiran assaulted Vismaya earlier too.
After Vismaya’s death, her family filed a complaint with the police, and Kiran was arrested and charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 304B (dowry death), 498A (cruelty by husband or a relative), 306 (abetment of suicide), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) for dowry death, inflicting physical or mental harm, abetment of suicide, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.
Kiran, who used to work as an assistant motor vehicle inspector of the Motor Vehicle Department, was also later dismissed from service by the Government of Kerala in August 2021.
In September 2021, the Kerala police filed a 500-page charge sheet naming Kiran as the main accused in Vismaya’s death, saying that Vismaya had died by suicide, but she was driven to death by constant dowry harassment and mental harassment by her husband Kiran Kumar.
The deputy Superintendent of Police Sasthacotta, Rajkumar, who had headed the investigation, had then said that there are several independent witnesses and circumstantial evidence that may prove Kiran’s guilt.
During the trial, 42 witnesses, 102 documents, and several call records were examined in the court. The prosecution argued that Kiran had harassed Vismaya, demanding more dowry as he believed he deserved more since he was a government servant.
According to the police, he was not happy with the car that Vismaya’s family had given him and wanted a different model. The police had found photos of Vismaya with injuries after Kiran assaulted her, and also used voice clips and phone recordings as evidence.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)