POLICE are probing whether the death by suspected suicide of an art designer, who had worked in a noted 2018 Malayalam film, was the result of moral policing.
Suresh Chaliyath, 44, was the art designer of Udalazham, that had done the rounds of film festivals, and a teacher with a government school in Malappuram. He was found hanging near his home in Vengara in the district a day after six men barged into his home and reportedly humiliated and assaulted him in front of his wife and children, before dragging him to the house of the PTA president of the school where he worked.
A case of unnatural death has been registered, police said. “We are looking into other incidents, including moral policing. Police haven’t got any complaint from any quarters against the teacher,” police said.
Chaliyath’s family was not available for comment.
P R Sreekumar, the headmaster of the school where Chaliyath worked, said, “What seemed to have provoked the gang was that Suresh had a chat with a Muslim woman on a social media platform a few months back. The issue was over. However, on Friday afternoon, a gang went into his house and (conducted) a trial over the incident in front of his wife and children. The gang dragged Suresh out of his house and took away his mobile phone. Hence, none of us, the colleagues, could get in touch with him after the incident.”
The president of the PTA of the school, K Alavikutty, confirmed the men got Chaliyath to his house. He said the men belonged to the family of the husband of the woman Chaliyath had chatted with, and that he recognised some of them as they were his former students. Alavikutty said the men had manhandled Chaliyath. “He was really upset over the humiliation.”
Vengara panchayat member K V Ummer Koya said what happened was extremely unfortunate and the allegations against Chaliyath were baseless. “He hadn’t misbehaved with anyone nor had there been any complaint about the alleged chatting.”