Kerala Guv observes day-long fast against dowry; Cong, BJP criticise govt

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan is observing the fast in response to a call by various Gandhian organisations to create awareness against the practice of giving and taking dowry as part of marriages.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Wednesday began a day-long fast at Raj Bhavan, his official residence in Thiruvananthapuram, to create social awareness against the practice of dowry and end atrocities against women.

It may be for the first time in the history of the southern state that any Governor was fasting for such a social cause. He is observing the fast in response to a call by various Gandhian organisations to create awareness against the practice of giving and taking dowry as part of marriages.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress and BJP extended support to the Governor for adopting the ‘Gandhian path’ to raise awareness against the menace. Lapping up the opportunity to criticise the Left government over the issue, they alleged that the failure of the Pinarayi Vijayan government to ensure safety of women in the state had forced the Governor to observe a fast to open the eyes of authorities.

“Greetings to the Governor who is observing a fast seeking to ensure the safety of women and girls of Kerala,” senior BJP leader and Union Minister, V Muraleedharan, said in a Facebook post. Hailing Khan for taking up such a cause, he said it may be a ‘rare episode’ in the administrative history of the country. He also said it is for the state government to find out why the Governor, the head of the state, has to fast seeking the safety of women.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President K Sudhakaran claimed that the failure of the state government to ensure safety and security of people was one of the reasons why the Governor was sitting on a fast.

Terming the Governor’s fast a “rare incident”, he said Khan has raised a “justified issue” and his agitation is “meaningful”. “The circumstance in Kerala now is that even the Governor is staging a Gandhian way of protest. The state government can not backtrack from its responsibility,” the Kannur MP added.

Khan began the fast by 8 am and would continue till 6 pm, Raj Bhavan sources said. The Governor would also take part in a prayer meeting to be organised at the Gandhi Bhavan here later in the evening before ending the fast, they added.

A dawn-to-dusk fast was progressing at Gandhi Bhavan also where several Gandhians were taking part in the drive under the aegis of the Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi and other such outfits.

In a video message issued last evening, Khan said dowry is a “grave injustice and ignominy to the dignity of women” whose contributions to Kerala’s growth are widely acknowledged. The Gandhian organisations said the programme aims at ending atrocities against women and to address the need to make Kerala a safer place for them.

Last month, Khan had made an emotional appeal to women to say no to dowry when it was demanded during the time of marriages and expressed willingness to be part of any “organised” voluntary movement to create awareness against the menace.

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