“Honour killing is the murder of a person accused of bringing shame upon his or her family.
“Out of the 5000 honour killings that occur internationally each year, about 1000 happen in India, and 1000 take place in Pakistan, according to international digital resource centre Honour Based Violence Awareness (HBVA).
“However, where the central criminal justice system is weak or unaffordable, honour killings may be ordered through informal legal systems. This makes the statistics unreliable, as the number of honour killings per year might be much higher than the official reports say.”
“A 45-year-old man from Uttar Pradesh has been arrested along with his friend in Kashimira, for allegedly raping and killing his 17-year-old daughter. The man told police that she had ‘shamed’ him by eloping with a boy from another community, and that he decided to kill her when he found out she was pregnant.”
“The prime accused Saleem, paternal uncle of Tahira, 15-year-old Muslim girl, who was brutally murdered and whose half burnt body was found buried from a grave in Khangesra village of Barwala block near the Tangri river in Panchkula district made shocking revelations during the police interrogation.
“Saleem, who had confessed that he used a pillow to smother her said that the victim was in love affair with her elder sister’s fiance. ‘Tahira tried to flee with him. The relationship was opposed by her family,’ he asserted, adding, ‘We tried to stop her several times. But couldn't stop her. Finally, I along with her elder brother killed her.’”
“Sasikala, a Caste Hindu, had married Dalit Kottaisamy of Ponnaiyapuram secretly in a temple near Sathirakudi on October 11 against the wishes of her parents and escaped from the district. The duo had been in love for two years while studying in a Muthukulathur college. Afraid of Sasikala’s parents, the couple eloped to Dharapuram with the help of Kottaisamy’s friend Peramaiyan. Meanwhile, Karuppaiya, the girl’s father, filed a missing person complaint with Emaneswaram police. When Sasikala’s relatives learnt the duo was in Dharapuram, they went with former panchayat leader Narayanan and forcibly brought her to their village, said Kottaisamy’s kin. Then the police produced them in court and sent her with her parents.
“The police received a message on Saturday night that Sasikala died after allegedly consuming poison and her father Karuppaiya, mother Kanthaayi and relatives were secretly cremating her body in the graveyard. Raising suspicion over the death, some villagers told the police that her parents would have forced Sasikala to consume poison because she married a Dalit.”
“Dismembered body of a teenaged girl, who was missing for the past 20 days, was recovered from a well in Dewas district on Friday. The body hacked to pieces, was stuffed into two gunny bags. The bags were tied to stones to prevent them from floating on water. Police suspect it a case of honour killing.
“Five people, including father and a brother of the girl, were detained.
“The gory killing to salvage 'honour' came to light after the police detained three youths from Khajrana, who reportedly confessed to have taken supari of Rs 5 lakh from the girl's brother Irfan Adam, 25, to kill the girl as she was allegedly having an affair with a boy from other religion.”
“About 500 angry Vanniars blocked the Chennai – Tada road near Cholavaram, about 25 km north of Chennai, on Tuesday night with the body of a Vanniar on learning that his teenaged daughter eloped with a Dalit youth, police said.
“They said Ravi of Jagannathapuram, about a km from Sholavaram, killed himself around 8.30 in the night when he learnt that his 19-year-old daughter eloped with a Dalit youth belonging to nearby Athipattu after telling her family that she was going to her college in Chennai. [...]
“He said the agitators were demanding that the police produce the lovers before them. ‘We are talking to them. It is nighttime. We are telling them to give us some time to find the two,’ he said.
“Locals said Ravi’s brother’s daughter had eloped with a Dalit youth six months back. The couple was yet to be traced. ‘How can we keep quiet when one girl after another from our families vanishes like this?’ asked a middle-aged protester.”
“The old and new are continually rushing at each other in India, most starkly in places like Haryana, a largely rural, conservative state abutting New Delhi whose residents can commute 20 miles to work in nightclubs and office buildings. But their home villages are sleepy places, whose main streets are patrolled by glossy, lumbering black water buffalo.
“The villages are ruled by khap panchayats, unelected all-male councils that wield strong control over social life, including women’s behavior. That job becomes much harder once the women have left for the city. When one khap leader listed city shops that were allowing young women to store mobile phones and change into Western clothes, another suggested posting informers outside the shops with cameras to capture photographic evidence as women came and went.
“Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader who voiced his support for this approach, said measures like these would protect young women from much worse dangers that might follow if they freely cultivated friendships with men. [...]
“A generation ago, women here lived in complete seclusion from men, and could appear in public only wearing a lightweight cloth that completely covered their head and face. Though that tradition is fading, many women are still not allowed to leave the house without permission from a father or husband.
“Haryana’s khaps focus much of their energy on defending a single ancient prohibition: Men and women are not allowed to marry anyone from the same village. The local interpretation of ancient Hindu texts holds villagers to be brothers and sisters, rendering their unions incestuous. Young people defy the ban very rarely, but those who do are sometimes murdered by a gang of male relatives. As much as the khaps condemn these ‘honor killings,’ they are just as adamant about preventing these romances, a quest that involves tight control over women.
“Meena, who left her village several years ago to escape an arranged marriage, said young women there were terrified of the elders in the khap, who scrutinized their behavior and issued a steady stream of criticism. The criticism, in turn, terrified her parents, who feared being ostracized.
“‘They would say, “Why is your daughter going around in the village with her head naked?,”’ she said. ‘If you were walking with your head straight, the khap guys would say, “Look down at the ground, don’t make eye contact. Don’t have irrelevant conversations.”’ [...]
“The possibility of violence ran like a thin blade through [conversations on these matters]: Just last month, a young man and woman studying in Rohtak were killed in public by the woman’s relatives after they were discovered violating the ban on same-village romance. The man was beheaded.
“‘You know,’ said Puja, a 19-year-old student, ‘the first time the parents hear that the girl is roaming around, either they take her home and get her married or else they kill them.’”
“In a statement issued on Monday, superintendent of police Sibas Kabiraj said, ‘The victim's parents admitted that they poisoned their daughter and then strangulated her. With the help of close family friends, they tried to cremate her in the morning. Suspecting foul play, the villagers informed the police.’
“According to the police, the victim, who belonged to Gadaria caste (a backward class) was in love with Jaswinder Singh, a mazhabi Sikh (a scheduled caste), but her family was against the inter-caste relationship.
“The couple ran away to Ludhiana in Punjab on September 22, but Manjit’s parents forcibly took her back home the next day.
“On September 29, they killed Manjit for going against the family’s wishes by marrying out of her caste.”
“In a suspected case of 'honour killing', a Dalit man was murdered allegedly by his in-laws at Mehrama village of Bihar's Nawada district on Tuesday, police said.
“‘The victim identified as Naveen Kumar (25), was hanged with a rope and his stomach was pierced,’ SP Manavjeet Singh Dhillon said. Naveen had married a girl from another Dalit caste two years ago much to the disapproval of her family, the SP said.”
“Nidhi Barak, 20, was lynched by her own family and they broke the limbs of Dharmendra Barak, 23, before beheading him and dumping the body in front of his house. The police have arrested Nidhi’s parents, brother and uncle and are on the lookout for others involved in the killing. [...]
“Nidhi and Dharmendra were studying in Rohtak, 10 km from their village, and were in a relationship for almost three years. When both went missing on Tuesday, Nidhi’s family got in touch with her and persuaded them to return home, with the promise that they would not be harmed. As they returned on Wednesday, Nidhi’s family took them to their house and killed them.
“The families, of the same ‘gotra,’ told the police that the couple eloped on Tuesday to get married in Delhi, 90 km away.
“The brutal killing is yet another reminder of the power ‘khap panchayats’ wield, issuing diktats against marriages within the same ‘gotra’ (clan) and in the same village or even ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood). In Haryana, there have been numerous cases of couples having defied the Khap diktat and paid the price with their lives.”
“Dharmender and Nidhi of Garnawathi village in Rohtak district of Haryana were in the prime of their youth. On September 17, they decided to elope and get married in a court. They left the village clandestinely to an unknown destination in Delhi. They knew the village community would not accept their communion as they shared the same gotra. But they were lured back to the village by a close friend of Dharmender, who is learnt to have been under pressure from the community.
“The couple was running out of money and the friend convinced them that their families were reconciled to their marriage idea. They were murdered on their return to the village. The girl’s parents, uncle and younger brother allegedly tortured and hacked the two of them into pieces. They decapitated the boy and threw his head and torso in front of his modest dwelling and challenged his family to come and claim the remains. None of the residents of the village dared to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime.
“The twin murders came to light when somebody tipped off the police as Nidhi’s body was being prepared for cremation. Some reports said that the bodies were dragged through the village to a send a message across to society, but this could not be confirmed. [...]
“Barring the Left parties and their mass organisations, all the other political parties in the State declined to come out openly and condemn the heinous crime. Billoo, the girl’s father and a former wrestler, proudly claimed before the media that he had done the right thing. [...]
“The people in the village were unanimous in their opinion that the couple had left the girl’s parents with no choice. ‘The girl’s father should have got her married instead of sending her to the city to study. The laws are made for society but our society doesn’t accept it. The age of marriage should be reduced from 18 to 14. This will solve a lot of problems.’ [...]
“[T]he concept of property is very strong in Haryana and the three Js—jar (property), joru (wife) and jameen (land)—are the cornerstones of patriarchy in Haryanvi society. To this extent, and to protect and preserve property, levirate marriages, where the widow is married off to the husband’s brother, are common. It has happened even in cases where the groom was much younger than his widowed sister-in-law.
“Another elderly man from the village said that townspeople found it difficult to understand village customs. ‘There is no concept of brotherhood in the cities. No one cares for the other,’ he said. He said when such transgressions took place, the influential people involved would resort to murder. Among the other forms of ‘punishment’ for those who violate the ‘norms’ are social boycott (hukka-paani band) and economic ‘sanction’, which prevents people from tilling or sowing the fields of the families concerned.”
“In an incident of honour killing on Friday, two brothers of a caste Hindu family were arrested at Seevalaperi here on charges of murdering their sister who fell in love with a Dalit boy.
“Police sources said Gomathi (17) had gone to work in a mill at Puthukottai area in Thoothukudi district and had fallen in love with Murugan (22) of Thiruvenkadanathapuram in Thoothukudi district, also a worker there. Gomathi’s caste Hindu family opposed their marriage as the boy was a Dalit. However, Gomathi went to Murugan’s house on Thursday, and decided to stay with the boy.
“As she did not return to her house, Gomathi’s brothers Murugan (24) and Sudalaimuthu (20) went to Murugan’s house and brought her back by promising that they would help her marry the boy she chose.
“Believing their words, the girl returned home. On Friday, the brothers reported that the girl had committed suicide. But investigation revealed that the brothers had poisoned and then hanged her. Seevalaperi police arrested the duo.”
“There's a pall of gloom and fear at the home of Murugan, a Dalit science graduate residing in the Pudukottai village in Tuticorin district. A 17-year-old girl from the upper caste Thevar community, who had eloped with him, was found murdered a few days ago in the neighbouring Tirunelveli district.
“The police suspects the family of the girl to be behind the murder and has arrested her two brothers.
“Murugan, however, hides in fear that he may be attacked next.
“At his home, however, no one is willing to speak out. The family exercises abundant restraint.
“‘They have done no harm to us. Why should we blame anyone for this and make it a big issue? My brother should not have fallen in love with an upper caste girl. He should have found a partner in our own Dalit community,’ Murugan's elder brother Ottaikaran says. [...]
“For years, the Dalits have largely depended on their Thevar landlords for their livelihood in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. And they became easy targets when their menfolk married Thevar women. The early nineties saw bloody communal clashes in the region.
“More recently, upper caste women have become victims of the dishonour killings, with at least six in the last two years alone.”
“Twenty-four-year-old Shravanthi, who works in a private firm in Banjara Hills, wanted to marry a man she was in love with. Her parents, Raja Ram Shetty, 45, and Vasantha, 40, residents of Beerappaguda in Jeedimetla, wanted her to consider other proposals but she wanted to marry the man of her choice.
“Raja Ram is an Arya Vysya, a forward caste in Hinduism. The man Shravanthi wanted to marry belonged to Kapu caste, which is also a forward caste, but different. The Shettys refused to agree to the match. When Shravanthi refused to be browbeaten, her orthodox parents took the extreme step.
“On Saturday evening, they locked their house and went to their other house in Rajiv Gruhakalpa in Jagathgirigutta. That is where they hanged themselves. They were found by a visitor next morning who saw their vehicle parked outside and went in to meet them.
“‘We found a suicide note which mentioned they have taken the extreme step due to fears of facing society, in case she marries a man of another caste,’ said Mahender Reddy, SI Jeedimetla.”
“In a shocking incident, a young girl was battered to death by her father as she had refused to marry a youth selected by him and insisted on marrying a Dalit youth of the same village. [...]
“According to the police, Konda Mamata (20), a second-year student of government degree college here, had allegedly been in love with a Dalit youth for the past three years and pressing her parents to allow her to marry him.
“But her request was turned down by the parents, particularly her father, Chandraiah, a tailor, and they fixed her marriage to a youth belonging their caste (Merudarji). A function, as part of the wedding preparation, was held at the house on Friday. It was attended by scores of their relatives. After all the guests had left the place, the girl again expressed her strong desire to marry the man of her choice which led to yet another bout of heated argument between the two. In a fit of rage, Chandraiah hit his daughter with an axe, which resulted in the girl’s death on the spot.”
“A 19-year-old girl has been burnt to death and her mother beaten after pleading with village elders to be allowed to marry a boy from the same village and same caste, Indian police have confirmed.
“Anju Yadav, 19, from Karahkol village, in Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh, was set on fire at her home while her mother, Gyanwati Devi, 48, was on the other side of the village pleading with the village council to allow Anju to marry her boyfriend of two-years, Ranjit Yadav, 21.
“But the village council, along with the boy’s father, Jai Hind Yadav, 52, rejected their pleas insisting it was against tradition.
“Instead, the boy’s father rushed over to the family home and set the girl alight, it was claimed.
“Indian society is well known for its complex caste system [...]. However, what is less well known is that it is equally unacceptable for people from the same caste and village to marry. [...]
“Her mother, Gyanwati, said both her daughter and Ranjit loved each other very much and wanted to marry.
“Gyanwati went to Jai Hind’s house on Wednesday evening to discuss the marriage proposal but when he and the family refused she went to village council for help, which is usual in India.
“Gyanwati said: ‘I wanted to see my daughter happy. They loved each other; I had no problem with the marriage. But when I went to Jai Hind with the proposal he told me it’s a sin to marry within the same caste and would not accept the marriage.’
“Anju, who was enveloped in flames, ran to the terrace of her house and jumped down. She suffered fractures in her arms and legs, too. The villagers poured water on her, but by then she had already suffered over 85 per cent burns.”
“A Dalit youth who fell in love and married a caste Hindu girl was found murdered on a field here on Thursday. Police have arrested the girl’s father and brother in this connection. [...]
“In April this year, the girl eloped with Parthiban, who married her with support of his friends. When the marriage came to the knowledge of Ochammal’s family, they refused to admit the couple in their house. Besides, whenever the girl’s family members came across Parthiban, they used abusive words and threatened him. Sources said, a few days back, the girl’s father went to Parthiban’s shop and threatened him.”
“Dhaka, who belonged to pre-dominant Jat community, had married Shabnam Balmiki (22), a Dalit woman, last year in a temple at Hisar.
“However, the family members of Shabnam, who reside in Fatehabad, did not approve of the marriage and also did not allow her to go with her husband.
“On May 30, when Satpal Dhaka went to meet his wife, to invite her for his brother’s marriage, the irate relatives tried to thrash him, but he managed to escape. [...]
“Last evening when Satpal was out for distributing invitation cards of the marriage of his brother Suraj Bhan, the girl’s father Mukesh and her brothers Shubham and Sagar, along with three others, allegedly attacked Satpal, killing him on the spot, police said.”
“Less than one month after the death of a young Delhi gang-rape victim sparked a massive series of protests across India demanding a change in the country’s attitudes toward its women, a group of council elders have defended another type of violence against females–the ancient practice of ‘honor killings’ in the country. [...]
“On Monday, in documents presented before the Indian Supreme Court, the Sarv Khap Panchayat, which comprises 67 ‘khaps’ (or unelected caste-based councils) from the Rohtak district of Haryana, a state in northern India, explained the reasons behind honor killings and absolved themselves of any responsibility in them. [...]
“The Times of India reported that in response the Panchayat declared before the court: ‘The main culprits [behind] honor killing are not the representatives of khaps but the near and dear ones of the couples and more so the relatives of the girls, when they cannot resist the social pressure of the locality and the taunts of relatives.’ [...]
“‘The killings are initiated by the family members of such couples–marrying inter-caste or within the same gotra [clan]–and especially by the relatives of girls. It is observed that such incidents happen only [among] the peace-loving and law-abiding people of the village and not [among] the mischievous families,’ the Panchayat said.
“‘Such ‘love marriages’ being socially, customarily and traditionally prohibited relationships against the age-old custom and tradition of marriages, their relatives and friends cannot withstand the hostile taunts of their companions and [the] public at large and this aspect forces them to commit such heinous crime of killing the couple on the pleas of saving the honor of their families in the eyes of the villagers.’ [...]
“The victims of most honor killings in India (as well as Pakistan and the Arab nations) tend to be women, who are viewed as the holder and symbol of a family’s ‘honor.’
“By choosing her own husband in defiance of her family’s wishes, a young woman in India is ‘seen as polluting not just herself but also her domestic group,’ Delhi-based sociologist Deepak Mehta said to the Wall Street Journal.”
“A man was attacked by his brother-in-law late on Friday following a dispute over his inter-caste marriage. An attempt-to-murder case was registered at Yerawada police station. Police said suspect Nitin Kadam’s sister married Alok Kamble of Ambedkar Nagar colony in Yerawada about two-and-a-half months ago. The Kadam family was not happy with the inter-caste marriage but Kamble went against their wishes and married Kadam's sister. This led to a dispute between Kamble and Kadam. Police said on Friday angry Kadam allegedly attacked Kamble at Ambedkar Nagar with a sharp weapon around 7 pm.”
“A 45-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly killing his 17-year-old daughter after spotting her with a young man near his house around midnight. The accused was opposed to his daughter's friendship with the young man, who belonged to a different caste.
“According to the police, Jhallar, a farmer, had gone to sleep along with other family members at his house. Around midnight, he woke up for some purpose and realised that one of his four daughters, Anju, was not in the house, the police said.
“Jhallar began looking for her and spotted her with the man at a tubewell, around near the house.
“‘The man escaped from the spot, while Jhallar caught hold of his daughter. He brought her to the house and beat her up badly. As the girl fell unconscious, he picked up a gandasa (a sharp agricultural implement) and slit her throat. The girl died on the spot,’ Station Officer (Kokhraj) Sri Prakash Yadav said.”
“In a tragic incident here, a boy and a girl hailing from two different intermediate castes in love committed suicide after their parents opposed the relationship.
“A Premkumar, 19, from Othaveedu near Alanganallur was in love with 16-year-old M Vijayalakshmi, from Kumaram, a neighbouring village. The boy was working in a company in Madurai after completing a diploma and the girl was a Class 11 student in a school near Madurai. They reportedly met on the bus they travelled on daily to Madurai and fell in love. Recently, the parents came to know of their relationship and chided them. It was also said that the girl's family was planning to stop her studies and marry her off to someone in the community. Scared that they will be separated, they committed suicide on Monday by hanging from a tamarind tree near a tank adjacent to their villages.”
“Police on Saturday said the suspected murder of a 25-year-old woman was a case of dishonour killing with her parents, fiercely opposed to her affair with a dalit boy, allegedly getting her eliminated.
“Manpreet’s father Kapur Singh, mother Balwinder and two others – Satnam and Jaswinderpal – had been arrested and Rs 1.50 lakh, a sharp-edged weapon and a car used in the crime seized, he said.
“‘The girl’s mobile phone and her burnt clothes were also seized from the arrested persons,’ Gill said.”
“It was an intercaste marrige the victim, Indu, had married her friend Ajay Rohil against her parents wishes. Unhappy with the inter-caste marriage, girl’s parents killed her daughter after 16 days of Indu’s marriage.Indu was a student of engineering.
“Indu’s parents had convinced her in-laws to let her go home with them after the wedding. But they killed her and took the body to the cremation ground cladestinely and consigned it to flames so that the evidence can be destroyed.”
“A 50-year-old man, who was opposed to the love affair between a youth from a different caste and his relative, shot dead the youth’s aunt and father at Avathi village in Mallandur police limits Chikmagalur district on Wednesday night. The man was also killed by the youth and his relatives on the spot.”
“The family members of 19-year-old Suma B., who witnessed the murder of her husband by an armed gang of four on September 6, are alleging that the murder is an honour killing. But, the police differ saying it was the fallout of an eve-teasing row.
“After a month of married happiness, Ms. Suma’s dreams were shattered when her husband, Naveen Kumar (23) of Anekal, was hacked to death even as she watched helplessly.
“Suma is yet to come out of the shock. She stopped going to college fearing for her life as she is the sole eye-witness to the murder.
“Married on August 6 this year against her parents’ wishes to Naveen, who is from a Dalit family, Ms. Suma now says her husband was killed at the behest of someone who was against their marriage as she is a ‘caste’ Hindu.”
“Parents of a Class X student dragged their girl out of her lover’s house early on Monday morning and hacked her to death for continuing with the relationship they vehemently opposed. Neighbours rushed to rescue the girl but by the time she was freed from her parents, uncle and elder brother, it was too late. She died on the spot.
“Upset over his 20-year-old daughter’s affair with a boy of another caste, a retired army personnel allegedly killed her with the help of his elder brother by asphyxiating her with a pillow on the intervening night of September 11 and 12.
“Inquiry Officer Harpal Singh said the deceased, a resident of Jandiala, was allegedly in a relationship with Sukhdev Singh (21), a resident of Jaanian village, for the past one year. Kaur belonged to Mazhabi Sikh community and her friend was from a Jat Sikh family.”
“Tension mounted in Una town of Junagadh district on Thursday after a 27-year-old dalit youth was charred to death by a group of 12 people in Akolali, a village about 25 km from the coastal town.
“The attackers suspected that the youth, Lalji Sarvaiya, had eloped with a girl from their community. The girl had been missing since two days. They came to Lalji’s house at around 8am and started asking for his whereabouts. They also threatened his father Kala Sarvaiya to hand over his son or face dire consequences.
“After heated arguments, some people barged into his house while others climbed onto the roof and started breaking it. ‘Seeing him sleeping, the attackers closed the main door of the house and those on the roof poured some inflammable liquid on him and set him ablaze. They also tried to set the house on fire but escaped after the commotion,’ Dipanker Trivedi, SP, Junagadh, said.”
“Eighteen-year old Reshma was strangled by her father Salim in Hapur district on Thursday after she refused to desert her lover and marry someone else as wished by the family. After killing his daughter, an unrepentant Salim went to the local police station and told everything to the cops.
“According to reports, Reshma had an affair with Aqueel, who is already married and a father of four children. Reshma’s family did not approve of the relationship as Aqueel was not only married but also belonged to a different caste.”
“Lives of a young couple, who married out of their caste and ‘economic status’, were snuffed out by the girl’s family in a case of ‘honour killing’ in Gokak on Tuesday. The girl’s family hacked the couple to death in broad daylight, leaving the city in a shock. Twenty-year-old Nethra and 26-year-old Vittal Kuri married one-and-a-half-years ago, against the wishes of their parents and relatives. Nethra was from the rich family of Bagai brothers, while Vittal was from a poorer background. As they could not get their parents to agree to their relationship, they got married in a sub-registrar’s office and settled down at Loslur near Gokak, away from trouble. The couple, in the meanwhile, had a girl child, who is seven months old now.”
“A married woman Sanjana Raj (25) and her three-year-old daughter Gungun Kumari were murdered allegedly by her family members in Gulab Bagh locality under Barh police station in Patna district late on Friday night. [...]
“Sanjana had married one Dilip Kumar, a resident of Gulab Bagh, in 2008. Dilip owns a tailoring shop. It was an inter-caste marriage and it seems that the girl’s family members were not happy with the marriage. He said about four days ago, Sanjana’s family members reached Dilip’s house, saying they were not opposed to the marriage and wanted to do her vidai (send-off) properly. Dilip allowed his wife and daughter to go with their family members.
“On Friday night, Dilip made a call on Sanjana's cellphone and found it switched off. He said when Dilip reached his in-law’s house, the neighbours informed him that his wife and daughter had been murdered and their bodies had been thrown into river Ganga.”
“Two brothers’ misplaced sense of honour drove them to stab their sister’s ‘lower caste’ husband to death at a park in northwest Delhi on Thursday morning, police said. [...]
“‘At around 9:30 am on Thursday morning, Jyoti’s brothers, Gaurav and Rahul, went to Ranvir’s house and took him to the neighbourhood park on the pretext of talking to him. They then stabbed him to death,’ said a senior police officer. [...]
“Ranvir and Jyoti, according to police, had got married on April 17 and, sensing a threat to their lives from their own family members, had approached a city court seeking security. After the court made both families resolve the matter, Jyoti’s family had consented to get the couple remarried in accordance with necessary rituals.
“‘However, persistent taunts from their neighbours drove Jyoti’s brothers over the edge,’ [...] said the officer.”
“Elango was murdered by a gang of men who opposed his falling in love with Selvalakshmi, 18, a dominant-caste girl in Erode.
“Selvalakshmi’s brother Saravanan, who wanted to save the ‘honour’ of the family, arranged his friends to ‘finish off’ Elango, a dalit. His friends brought Elango to Muneerpallam secretly and killed him.
“Now Saravanan’s gang has been put behind bars. Selvalakshmi is depressed and sees no hope for her future. [...]
“In another case in Ramanathapuram, a mother and grandmother of a bride were arrested for killing the girl who got married to a lower caste man.
“Three days ago, a dominant caste parent was alleged to have kidnapped her grandchild as the child was born to a dalit man. There is a misconception that honour killing occurs only in villages.
“In another incident, a caste Hindu girl of Chennai, Sadhura, who married a dalit, Daniel Selvakumar, working in a private bank, was poisoned by her family for ‘spoiling’ their family name.”
“Despite the placing on Pakistan’s statute books of tougher laws against the practice of ‘swara’ or the ‘giving away’ of a woman to a rival party to settle a dispute, the tradition continues.
“The women’s rights advocacy organization Rahnuma, which guides victims, describes ‘swara’ as a practice “where a girl is given as an offering to `settle’ a conflict or dispute.” The practice is most common in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province (KP) and the southern Punjab, where it is known as ‘vani’, but also takes place in other parts of the country.
“A ‘swara’ exchange can be used to settle murder, adultery (a crime under the law), kidnapping or another offence. [...]
“‘Yes, the laws have helped but “swara,” “vani” and similar practices still go on,’ [activist Samar] Minallah told IRIN. ‘Estimates based on newspaper reports indicate there are hundreds of cases each year. Of course, there are many others which do not get reported,’ she said.
“She also said that tougher laws and arrests made under them had ‘led to people disguising the handing over of a woman or girl. The deal is not announced within the community as a “swara” or “vani” marriage, though within the families concerned it is known that the woman has been given away as “swara” and is treated accordingly,’ Minallah said.
“While ‘swara’ brides are wed to the men they are given to, these men are usually far older than the ‘brides,’ who are often mere children.
“The girls are also usually treated extremely badly or ‘like slaves,” according to Minallah, in the home of their in-laws.
“Other ‘traditional’ practices also harm women. According to the autonomous Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRPC), there were 943 ‘honour killings’ in 2011. An ‘honour killing,’ according to HRCP, involves the murder of a woman who is deemed to have let down her family, or ‘dishonoured’ it in some way. This can involve an act such as alleged adultery, a marriage decided on by the woman herself or other trivial matters. Couples choosing to wed by choice frequently end up having to go on the run, as in a recent case reported in the media from Karachi in June this year.
“The kinds of threat women face was illustrated by a recent case from the remote Kohistan District of KP where four women were sentenced to death by a local ‘jirga’ (gathering of tribal elders) after being caught on video clapping as two men unrelated to them danced at a wedding.
“‘Custom’ or “tradition” also works against women in other ways.
“According to figures presented at a seminar in Karachi by the Family Planning Association of Pakistan, 30 percent of all marriages in the country are child marriages though the law bars the marriage of a girl under 16 or a boy under 18.”
“According to the police, Suman Kumar, a resident of Banswara's Anjana village had married Happy Kalal who comes from a different caste.
“‘Suman Kumar says that he and his family members are being harassed since the marriage took place. He says that members of a caste council in their village forced him to vacate the shop that he was running, rendering him completely jobless,’ said a police officer.
“He added that his mother and brothers are being forced to stay separated from him and his wife.
“‘Whenever my wife heads out of home, she is subjected to mockery and humiliation,’ said Suman Kumar in his statement to the police.”
“In a shocking case of ‘honour killing’ on the outskirts of the Capital, a young Municipal Corporation of Delhi school teacher was strangulated to death allegedly by her brother and mother in Kanjhawala here over her affair with a man belonging to a different caste.
“The accused, Birmati (50) and Mohit (22), stuffed the body of Deepti Chhikara (26) in an Alto car and dumped it in Uttrakhand helped by the victim’s uncle Amit, the police said.
“The sensational murder came to light more than a month after the incident, when Deepti’s paramour Lalit Vats, a diploma holder in computer science, wrote an e-mail to the senior police officers saying that he suspected something wrong had happened to the woman. [...]
“When subjected to sustained interrogation, Birmati and Mohit purportedly confessed to having strangulated Deepti on April 19 night when they caught him talking to Lalit over the phone. The mother-son duo first beat her up and Mohit later strangulated her to death. Birmati held Deepti by her legs, while Mohit strangulated her, the police said.”
“A dalit youth, who had married an upper caste girl in the face of strong opposition from her family four years back, was killed in Sector 8 of Kurukshetra. [...]
“Rohtas Kumar, a property dealer and resident of village Rojla (Karnal), had met Sonia first time when she was pursing a post-graduate course in Kurukshetra University in 2008, said Kumar's family members.
“They got married in the same year after a love affair despite the fact that her parents opposed the wedding, said Kumar's brother, Vajir Singh in a police complaint.
“‘But, even after marriage, the couple faced lot of opposition from her family members who pressurized her to seek divorce from him. Finally, she gave in, agreed to divorce her husband and returned to her parent’s house,’ he added.
“Singh told the police that they could not track his brother for five months as his mobile phone remained switched off.
“Finding that his house was locked for long, the house owner requested the police to break the lock, to find the body of Kumar, which had been reduced to a skeleton.”
“Parvati has been secretly dating the same man for over four years. This independent and educated female was terrified of the consequences if her parents discovered that she was in a relationship with a low-caste Hindu, because in Parvati’s high-caste Brahmin family it is forbidden for women to marry into lower caste families. Here Parvati lost my understanding. How could she allow what is essentially a form of racism concealed by religion to continue through her own choices?
“I didn't feel able to ask Parvati this question aloud, but I did ask why she didn't just marry her partner. ‘They might have him murdered’, she whispered to me one evening over a bottle of wine, shaking and tearful. ‘The extended family would laugh at us and disown us, and they’d never forgive me for dirtying their honour. I don’t know what they might do in response to that.’
“A rare anecdote, you might say; an unlikely story? But this is the story of [South] Asian women around the world. Whether they are living in India, Europe or the US, whether they are artists, lawyers or doctors, scratch the surface and the thick residue of an old inequality still remains. With their modern dresses these women wear a set of rusty, confining shackles.”
“Madhavan, a Dalit, has literally escaped the noose and is grateful that he is still alive.
“On Tuesday morning, he was dangling from a sari, after he was forced to attempt suicide.
“But, there was no such luck for Chitra, a 29-year old caste Hindu, who was lynched by a village mob for her alleged relationship with Madhavan.
“The honour killing took place on Tuesday just after dawn in Vandal in Vedaranyam. Chitra and Madhavan were bullied and beaten up. Their crime was that their ‘relationship' was not only extra-marital, but also inter-caste.”
“A minor Dalit girl from Bannirsarige in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka was forced to leave the village by her family and local people for falling in love with a boy from a different caste and, in their view, bringing ‘ignominy’ to the community.
“Suma (name changed), 17, and pregnant, was left to fend for herself after her father and other family members threatened to commit suicide if she did not leave the house.”
“In a bid to save family honour, a man strangled his daughter at Gedellanka village of Mummidivaram mandal in East Godavari on Monday night as she insisted on marrying her lover who belongs to another community.”
“In yet another case of suspected honour killing, the Tirunelveli district police on Friday arrested four persons on charges of murdering a Dalit youth who fell in love with a caste-Hindu girl.
“According to police sources, S. Elango (25) of Periyar Nagar in Erode was invited for a discussion by his girlfriend's maternal uncle and his former employer Saravanan. When he went to see him in a village near Munnirpallam on August 5, 2011, Saravanan and his associates took Elango to an isolated place and murdered him. The body was thrown into a pond.”
“The 19-year-old girl Tabassum Khatun had got involved with 21-year-old Imran Khan, who was living as a paying guest in the upper floor of their apartment and was romantically involved with Tabssum the past four months.
“The two had even sought the permission of the deceased’s parents to legalize their relationship in matrimony. However the parents would have none of it, as Khan was from a lower caste.
“On Sunday, night the father Mohammad Kitabuddin Abdul Gafur Shah was awoken with a sudden sound and caught the two in the middle of a clandestine meeting, when in a fit of rage he killed his daughter.”
See also three other cases of caste-related honor killings in the Indian press this week:
“In a shocking incident, a backward-class woman was murdered allegedly for hiding her caste and marrying an upper caste man in Chitrakoot district. The man and his father have been arrested.
“The man confessed that he had killed his wife. He told the police that he was in love with his wife, who introduced herself as Puja Mishra when they first met. The two got married. When he came to know that she belonged to a backward caste, the man got furious and murdered Puja.”
A married woman who tried to elope with her Dalit lover met a gruesome death when her husband and in-laws tried to hang her, then set her on fire in Madhya Pradesh.[...]
Guddi, who was married to Dhaniram, was trying to escape from their village with her lover. Her husband and his parents tried to hang her from a tree. When she survived, they allegedly beat her up, poured kerosene over her, and then tried to set her on fire. When that attempt to kill her also proved unsuccessful, they placed her on a wooden pyre and then lit a match.
She was finally killed near a temple while the whole village watched, police said.
Guddi's younger sister Brijesh is married into the same family. She remained a mute spectator while Guddi was tortured to death. Police were surprised that Brijesh, an eyewitness to her elder sister's murder, refused to give a statement or talk about the incident. [...]
Guddi was married into the influential family of farmers more than a decade ago. She was about 15 years younger than her husband. She fell in love with a dalit youth Kamal Valmiki, who visited their village often. On October 2, Guddi eloped with Kamal to Delhi so that her husband and in-laws could not find her.
“On June 5, in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 33-year-old Rumana Monzur was permanently blinded and disfigured by her husband.[...]
“[S]ome feminists insisted that the attack had nothing to do with religion and was purely a ‘domestic violence’ issue, claiming that to say otherwise would be racist. It is true that violence against women occurs in all societies, crossing class, religious and national bounds, but what happened to Rumana had all the markings of an attempted ‘honour killing.’ There have been countless such murders in the Near East, in South and Central Asia as well as in many imperialist countries. These brutal crimes grow out of the clash between a woman’s desire for independence from ‘traditional’ culture and the legacy of pre-capitalist social and economic norms that persist in large swathes of the world.[...]
“We sharply oppose this racist ruling-class drive against Muslims and other minorities. At the same time we strongly solidarize with women who seek to throw off the strictures of religious traditionalism. Bangladesh, like the rest of the Indian subcontinent, bears the imprint of pre-capitalist social and economic norms. This neocolonial country is dominated by the dictates of the imperialist order while also subject to the tyranny of religious obscurantism; capitalist exploitation manipulates and deepens the ancient traditions and taboos.
“The concept of ‘family honour’—control of a woman’s sexuality by her family—is not the exclusive purview of Islam but occurs in a number of religions, including Christianity. It is the reflection of the treatment of women as the property of their husbands or fathers. This was powerfully captured by Friedrich Engels in his classic work The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884): “In order to make certain of the wife’s fidelity and therefore of the paternity of the children, she is delivered over unconditionally into the power of the husband; if he kills her, he is only exercising his rights.” [...]
“Christianity and Judaism, in their many variants, also preach stifling moral codes to uphold the patriarchal family, the main social institution oppressing women. But these religions, though they had roots in pre-capitalist society, adapted to conform with rising industrial capitalism and the bourgeois democratic nation-states where they existed. The radical democratic principles of the Enlightenment were the ideological reflection of historical material advances over a backward, feudal society. As a religion Islam has not had to adapt, largely because it is rooted in those parts of the world where the imperialists have reinforced social backwardness as a prop to their domination.
“The emancipation of women as part of the liberation of all the downtrodden of Bangladesh and the entire subcontinent requires a struggle for permanent revolution—the working class seizing power at the head of the peasantry and oppressed masses through socialist revolution, reorganizing society on the basis of collectivized property and fighting to extend the revolution internationally, especially to the imperialist centres.”
“In a case bearing resemblance to honour killings elsewhere in the country, a 30-year-old woman was killed by relatives for deciding to re-marry. Shabana Khan, a resident of Shivaji Nagar, Govandi, was strangulated in the wee hours of Monday. The police arrested the suspects on Tuesday.
“According to the police, Shabana, a mother of two, had reportedly separated from her husband a few years ago. She had planned to get married to a person named Ali. ‘Her cousins were not happy about her decision,’ B Pardeshi, inspector of the Shivaji Nagar police station said. [...]
“Her ten-year-old daughter woke up on hearing the commotion and saw the suspects fleeing. ‘She immediately raised an alarm and alerted the neighbours, who rushed Khan to a nearby hospital,’ the officer said. Khan was declared dead before admission.”
“Following a complaint by Joshua and Kalaivani that they feared for their lives as her family was against their marriage, Red Hills police inspector K Kumaran called Ezhumalai for talks. ‘Ezhumalai, a real estate businessman, came to the station dressed in a pair of trousers and shirt. As soon as he entered, he walked towards Kalaivani, pulled out a knife from his pocket and slit her throat,’ Kumaran said.
“Kalaivani, an undergraduate student, fled home on January 21 to get married to Joshua in a city church. She had met Joshua, an employee of a private firm in Ambattur, some 18 months ago through a common friend. Fearing opposition, she did not disclose her relationship to her family and registered her marriage at the sub-registrar's office in Egmore last week.”
“New cases of killings or harassment appear in the Indian news media almost every week. Last month, the police arrested three men for the honor killings of a couple in New Delhi who had married outside their castes, as well as the murder of a woman who eloped with a man from another caste.
“Two of the suspects are accused of murdering their sisters, and an uncle of the slain couple spoke of their murders as justifiable.
“‘What is wrong in it?’ the uncle, Dharmaveer Nagar, told the Indian news media. ‘Murder is wrong, but this is socially the best thing that has been done.’
“Intercaste marriages are protected under Indian law, yet social attitudes remain largely resistant. In a 2006 survey cited in a United Nations report, 76 percent of respondents deemed the practice unacceptable. An overwhelming majority of Hindu couples continue to marry within their castes, and newspapers are filled with marital advertisements in which parents, seeking to arrange a marriage for a son or daughter, specify caste among lists of desired attributes like profession and educational achievement.”
“The latest in a series of such attacks on women in the state, the Megala case dispels the popular notion that 'honour killings' are confined to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the north; southern states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh too witness similar incidents periodically. Many of them are sparked off when educated single women walk out of their homes and choose their own partners, sometimes from another community or caste. [...]
“A study by the National Commission for Women (NCW), still underway, shows that of the 326 cases of conflict surveyed so far nationwide, 72% were because the couple crossed caste barriers and only 3% were because the couple were from the same gotra. ‘Women are making their own choices and in a patriarchal set-up this causes problems,’ says Ravi Kant, Supreme Court advocate and president of Shakti Vahini, the organisation that is conducting the study for NCW.
“Activists in Tamil Nadu endorse this view. ‘Honour killings are not unheard of in Tamil Nadu. The basis is usually caste, more often than not a Dalit boy marrying an upper caste girl,’ says U Vasuki, general secretary, All-India Democratic Women's Association.”
“Police protection hardly helps, say activists. Standard operating procedure in the case of a runaway man and woman ends up with the woman’s family filing a case of kidnapping and/or rape against the man or his family. The woman shows up as ‘missing’ in Haryana police’s records. From November 2009 to May 2010, of the 686 people filed as ‘missing’ on Haryana police’s website, a largish 30% are females aged between 15 and 28 years.
“Police hunt the couple down. If the girl is under 18, she is forcibly returned to her family. If her age is suspect, and she refuses her family, she is packed off to a nari niketan and the guy is jailed. This usually takes place in the month between a couple’s registering their wish to marry and the registration, which has mandatory month in-between: a provision begging to be altered. ‘Fear of cases filed under section 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (compelling/inducing woman into marriage) against the “husband” drives the couple to court. If registration is immediate, such cases can’t proceed,’ says advocate Kulbir Singh Dhaliwal. Jaipur-based activist Kavita Srivastava moots the idea of same-day registration. ‘The more time you give, more the problems for the couple,’ she says. Many couples also surface to protect their families. In the headline-grabbing Manoj-Babli murder, for instance, the posed picture of the two garlanding each other was taken for Babli to prove that she married Manoj of her own accord. This was the only way to ensure that the kidnapping case against her mother-in-law Chandrapati, of Karora village in Kaithal, could be quashed. It was on that visit that the two were murdered.
“As is clear, not every couple is killed. Activists say barely a handful are murdered: what determines the fate of the target is the couple’s financial independence, political clout or wherewithal to pay off the khap. Lawyers say 90% cases are ‘solved.’‘Nobody says a word when a politician’s children decide to marry against norms. It’s very selective,’ says Aidwa’s Sudha Sundararaman. Or when couples can pay the “fines” khaps impose, in short paying their way out. Matters come to a head if the woman marries a lower caste guy. Her succession rights can mean property going—via the girl—into a lower-caste family. Inter-caste, intra-village, intra-gotra are the big daddies frowned upon. But again, selective. ‘A khap had declared a couple brother-sister recently and nullified their marriage. We intervened and as the boy was Delhi-based and had clout, their khap revoked the decision,’ says Sundararaman.”
“In a case that has stunned India's capital, [a young man] and his teenage girlfriend were tortured and murdered in a so-called honour killing, allegedly by the young woman's family, who objected to the relationship.
“Over a period of several hours, the young couple were bound, beaten and given electric shocks before they died. All that time, the woman screamed and begged with her assailants–apparently her uncle and father–to spare the life of the young man whom she so wanted to marry.
“‘When we found the bodies, the couple's legs and hands were tied and they were bleeding,’ the deputy commissioner of Delhi police, NS Bundela, told a press conference yesterday. ‘The couple were electrocuted as well, but we will wait for the full post-mortem report.’
“The killing of young couples who challenge the wishes of their families is not uncommon in rural India where the centuries-old traditions of caste and tribe remain little diluted. But this incident has triggered an unusual degree of outrage, both for its brutality and for its location in a city that is gearing up for October’s Commonwealth Games and a chance to showcase itself to the world.
“The couple, Yogesh Kumar Jatav, 21, and 19-year-old Asha Saini, lived just streets from each other in the crowded, claustrophobic Gokulpuri neighbourhood on the edge of the city and had started their relationship two years ago. Yet despite such geographic proximity, in the eyes of Ms Saini's family, the pair were from worlds apart; her father owned and operated a successful vegetable wholesale business, while Mr Jatav, whose parents are dead, worked as a taxi driver. More importantly, it seems, Mr Jatav was from a lower caste. [...]
“When he was brought before court yesterday, Ms Saini's uncle apparently confessed to the crime and told reporters: ‘We killed them using an electric shock. Yogesh had come to our house. We don't feel any remorse.’”
“Cousin Lokesh Kumar Saini says: ‘We had talked to Yogesh and his family in the past and told them to stay away. We had also found a good match for Asha and she was engaged.
“‘What will any parent do if they see their daughter in a compromising position with a man? What would you do if you were in the same situation?’ he asks me angrily. ‘That's why my uncles killed them.’
“Another of Asha's uncles, Titoo Saini, is convinced ‘the killings were justified.’
“‘We did it for our honour. Honour in our community and society is paramount to us,’ he says.
“I ask them what honour the family has now that they are accused of murdering their own daughter?
“‘If she had run away with Yogesh, what honour would we have left then?’ he asks.
“‘Moreover, that would have set a bad precedent for the other children in the family. They would have done the same. Then it would have been a slow and painful death for us every living moment. This is better,’ he says.
“‘Asha played in my arms as a baby. I carried her for her funeral. Did that not make me unhappy?”
“But Titoo Saini is clear that marriage outside of caste is a bigger evil than murder.
“‘How can we marry outside the caste? This cannot be tolerated. Only an impotent man will accept this. If I was in their place, I would have done the same,’ he says.
“A newly-wed bride and her mother-in-law were killed and the groom seriously injured by the girl's relatives in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab on May 11. According to the police, 19-year-old Gurleen Kaur's naked body had deep cuts in the neck area, and her shoulder and fingers had been mutilated. Her father, brothers and uncles obviously thought this was fit punishment for her crime: marrying 25-year-old Amarpreet Singh against their wishes. [...]
“Will such so-called ‘honour killings’ stop if the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is amended to prohibit marriages within the same gotra? Unlikely. That may be the most publicised of the demands and threats issued by the Khap Mahapanchayat–a congregation of caste Panchayats from Jat strongholds in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan–in Kurukshetra on April 13, and subsequently elsewhere. But it was not the only one. They have also reportedly called for a ban on marriages within the same village and contiguous villages, as well as de-recognition of temple weddings uniting runaway couples.
“The mythical gotra factor may have come to the fore because the Kurukshetra gathering was clearly triggered by the recent landmark judgment delivered by District and Sessions Judge Vani Gopal Sharma in Karnal (Haryana) in the case of Manoj and Babli Banwala, a young couple belonging to the same caste and gotra, who were murdered in 2007 because they dared to marry each other.
“But, as scholar and activist Jagmati Sangwan has pointed out, not all honour killings even within Haryana involve same-gotra couples. According to her, the majority of the marriages condemned by Khap Panchayats are of couples who do not share a gotra.
“Most victims of ‘honour killings’ reported from various parts of the country are young people who choose to love or marry outside their caste, sub-caste or religion. Not surprisingly, the socially and economically dominant castes are usually responsible for acts of reprisal against inter-caste relationships. [...] In the name of preserving ‘social order’ and saving the ‘honour’ of the community, caste or family, all kinds of justifications are pressed into service. If the same-village or -gotra obstacle does not apply, there is always something else: a man was killed in Haryana last year for violating the ‘customary’ proscription of marriage between residents of neighbouring villages. [...]
“The recent spate of deaths attributed to ‘honour killing’ and the aggressive, unrepentant posturing of Khap leaders seem to have pushed at least some in the government into taking a more decisive stand on the issue than was common in the past (under any political dispensation). However, it is no secret that these caste-based, extra-legal bodies enjoy at least tacit support from a number of political leaders, civil servants, police officers, lawyers and even judges. Already two politicians from Haryana–one supposedly enlightened, the other definitely old-school–have publicly sought to make peace with the increasingly combative Khaps, albeit with riders (which ring rather hollow).”
“NEW DELHI: Just days after a Karnal court in Haryana sentenced five men to death for their role in an honour killing, the central district police claimed to have apprehended a 17-year-old minor and his two friends, allegedly for plotting and murdering a 20-year-old Dalit youth who reportedly ‘proposed’ to the former’s 15-year-old sister.
“‘The boy came all the way from Haryana, where his family had sent him after he fell in bad company, after news reached him that Bunty proposed to his younger sister, a Class 10 student of open school, in full public view,’ said Jaspal Singh, DCP (central).
“According to the police, Bunty was lured to a spot near Jakhira Bridge on March 25 where, helped by Arun alias Behari (22) and a 14-year-old boy, the brother of the girl killed him.”
"In recent months, cases of honour killing in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have claimed public attention and triggered demands from civil society for expeditious legislation to curb such crimes. Unconventional alliances, involving couples from different castes and clans, or of the same gotra, provide the pretext for medieval village-level, caste-linked governing bodies, called khap panchayats, to pronounce judgement and award punishment that can only be termed barbaric. Errant parties are hounded out of the villages, driven to suicide or killed. Their kin may also be persecuted by community members. Such events are accepted as being permissible for upholding the status quo in terms of social and caste relations. Outside rabidly feudal areas, alliances that do not meet family and community approval are unlikely to end in death. The errant couple might at worst be shunned by relatives. [...]
"Sati, though rare now in view of the vigilance maintained against the practice by local administrations, can also be considered honour killing since the hapless widow, more often than not, is forced to burn along with the body of her deceased spouse as a point of misplaced family pride. It is also a convenient way to keep property and assets within the marital family.
"Sociological studies indicate that in cases of honour killings of the kind rampant in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh—and also Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other northern regions—the motivation usually hinges on purely material factors. Marriage between dissimilar groups holds the real danger of family property and wealth passing out of the community into alien hands, and consequent loss of social precedence. It is for this reason that wealthy landholders and farmers zealously guard their females along with their land. The phrase, ‘Jiski laathi uski bhains’ [He who wields the stick owns the buffalo], popular in these northern States, succinctly sums up this ethos."
"'Only whores choose their own partners.... Recently an educated couple married against the samaj’s (community’s) wishes in Jhajjar. We hail the panchayat’s decision to execute them...The government cannot protect this atyachar (immoral behaviour).... (The law of the land) is the root of all problems... That’s your Constitution, ours is different.' – Mahendra Singh Tikait, farmers’ leader of Western UP
"'Yahan izzatdar woh hain jo ladki ko marte hain (Those who kill their girls are respected here).' – a teacher in rural Haryana
"'Khap leaders are keepers of Jat tradition.' - Justice (ret'd) Devi Singh Teotia, a former judge of the Punjab & Haryana HC, active member of the Sarv Khap Panchayat, demanding legalising of the khap panchayats
"Mahendra Singh Tikait’s outrageous and offensive remarks once again raise the question: why do the khaap panchayats of Haryana and Western UP which issue open ‘death sentences’ for couples who defy their caste-diktats on love and marriage, enjoy impunity?
"In the context of such executions, Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Hooda (whom the Congress proudly counts among its contingent of ‘young MPs’) had expressed sympathy for the 'sentiments and local customs of khap panchayats.' Will the Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh tell us why leaders of their party endorse such “sentiments” that mock the constitution and openly call for lynching?
"Tikait says women who choose their own partners are ‘whores’. The ‘dishonour’ of ‘whoring’, in his eyes, does not lie, it seems, in the act of buying sexual services. After all, men in the same region openly buy their wives (as reproductive machines) from other states, because women are in short supply due to female foeticide. The ‘dishonour’ according to him lies primarily in women choosing their own partners. This choice threatens the structures of property and land, and with it, the very edifice of the feudal order."
"Honour killings are not always committed by the family, often the announcement of the brutal punishment is done by a Khap Panchayat (prominent in western UP and Haryana) or a Caste Panchayat, a court which protects traditional norms of caste in a village. Even if a household agrees to the will of their children, this panchayat does not go with the decision of the family; instead such families are asked to leave the village.
"Ravinder Singh Gehlout’s family is the recent target of Khap Panchayat in Dharana village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district. Gehlout's family has been asked to leave the village as Ravinder has married a girl named Shilpa, who is of the same gotra.
"Being from same gotra means sibling like relationship, so according to the Khap, the marriage in the same category is equivalent to incest."
"Khaps are traditional area-based community organizations whose rulings have no legal sanction. In keeping with tradition, khap panchayats oppose marriages within the same 'gotra' (lineage) and are known to have meted out harsh punishments to 'erring' young couples.
"At a two-day meeting in Rohtak that ended on Sunday, the Sarv Khap Panchayat, a conglomerate of various khaps, decided to set up a core committee to suggest amendments to the Act to disallow same-gotra and same-village marriages as per Jat tradition.
"[Justice (ret'd) Devi Singh Teotia, a former judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, said:] 'One of the sections of the Hindu Marriage Act says that you can’t marry your brother or sister, unless custom permits.' This exception clause was added for some south Indian customs where sibling marriages are allowed under extreme circumstances. 'Since Jat custom doesn’t permit marriage within the same gotra and in the gotra of one’s parents, we can seek a similar clause.'
"'With mobile phones and television, milna-julna (interaction between the sexes) is too much. What can parents do except kill a daughter who disobeys?' says a local teacher defensively.
"Girls who survive their mother’s womb are brought up as daughters of the village. Not just [one village's] daughters, but of 12 neighbouring villages, says a khap member. All 12 villages form the Khidwali Bara khap, a Jat territorial unit. It decrees that boys and girls within these 12 villages cannot marry. Interestingly, the entire onus of ‘siblinghood’ rests on the girl. She is the keeper of village honour. Exceptions may be made for a boy, if the khap decides, but a girl is never allowed to bend the rules. 'If a girl married in her community’s villages, she will be in purdah in her own house. How can we allow that?' asks middle-aged Bedo.
"Vidya, who teaches at a government school in Sanghi, says she has had students who died in mysterious circumstances. 'We are only told so-and-so is dead,' she says. The physical trainer in her school adds, 'Kaaran koi nai batata (No one gives reasons).' On average, 10 to 12 healthy girls die every year, locals reckon, but there are no reliable figures.
"Generally, it’s the parents or father-brother duos who kill ‘wayward’ girls. A sympathetic mother may plead with a daughter to take the goli herself. A protesting daughter may be force-fed a pesticide pill, the preferred mode. The other route is death by hanging, all the better to ‘show’ it as suicide. No police, no complaint, no records. 'Yahan izzatdar woh hain jo ladki ko marte hain (Those who kill their girls are respected here),' says another teacher.
"If a couple runs away, the women in their families run the risk of being raped, gang-raped, and boycotted. At times, khaps also ‘fine’ the families lakhs of rupees. For the locals, that is par for the course. 'What else can be done?' asks an old woman."
"For its part, the state government grants them legitimacy. Its website reads: 'Khap Panchayats... would be requested to use their influence in combating various social evils.' Even CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has defended them, saying they’re needed in times of crisis.
"But Ranbir Singh says the khap panchayats’ increasing assertiveness is a sign of the identity crisis within the Jat community. 'Their landholdings are fragmenting and many fear that they would lose their zamindar status.'"
"Tensions between tribes are not uncommon in Pakistan, and Balochi tribes such as the Jatoi consider it a particular dishonour if their women marry into another group. The groups are strictly feudal and religiously conservative, with justice meted out by tribal courts or jirgas: illegitimate gatherings of elders, in which women have no voice and hearsay more often than not, replaces evidence. In cases of female dishonour these cases often result in a woman being marked as Kari. A Kari or 'black marked' woman can be killed by any member of the tribe with impunity, for the sake of honour.
"Recent statistics have reported that about 300 women are killed every year in Pakistan because of Kari, often in land distribution disputes, and often by male relatives. This kind of rural vigilante justice is generally tolerated by local police, due to the influence of powerful tribal leaders, and few cases reach the courts."
"Conflicts over dowries are such a serious problem in India that the crime of 'dowry death' was created in 1986 just to deal with the suspicious deaths of women within the first seven years of their marriage. Newly married brides are often subjected to vicious demands from their husbands and in-laws for additional money or gifts after the wedding and the abuse becomes so intolerable that some women choose suicide while others are eventually murdered for not complying with their new family's demands.
"According to India's National Crime Bureau, an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 women die annually in dowry deaths. Few of the perpetrators are ever brought to justice, and the grooms' families go on to secure new dowries as the sons marry again."
"The festival of lights snuffed out the two young lives as villagers of Kaluvas set upon the girls with machetes, axes and stones and later set them on fire.
"They had waited for them on the night of Oct.28 after getting wind of their movements. The fathers of the two girls too were part of the hysterical mob, it is reported.
"When they found the battered girls were still alive though unconscious, some rushed to fetch kerosene cans. The bodies were then promptly doused and set on fire.
"One of the villagers, Rajender Shivran, who says he couldn’t sleep under the weight of the unspeakable crime, eventually ventured to make it to the office of the Bhiwani Superintendent of Police with a complaint.
"However authorities have remained indifferent, reports the Times of India."
"A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament this week to spare him their outrage.
"'These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them,' Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, said Saturday. 'Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.'
"The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch."
"Their bodies, half-stripped, were laid out on the dirt outside Sunita's father's house for all to see, a sign that the family's 'honor' had been restored by her cold-blooded murder.
"A week later, the village of Balla, just a couple of hours drive from India's capital New Delhi, stands united behind the act, proud, defiant almost to a man.
"Among the Jat caste of the conservative northern state of Haryana, it is taboo for a man and woman of the same village to marry. Although the couple were not related, they were seen in this deeply traditional society as brother and sister.
"'From society's point of view, this is a very good thing,' said 62-year-old farmer Balwan Arya, sitting smoking a hookah in the shade of a tree in a square with other elders from the village council or panchayat. 'We have removed the blot.'
"Growing economic opportunities for young people and lower castes in Haryana have made 'love marriages' more common, experts say, and the violent repression of them has risen in tandem as upper caste Jat men fight to hold on to power, status and property.
"[T]he legalization of property rights for women in 1956 made love marriages within a village even more dangerous for this elite, as daughters living close to home could in theory claim a part of the family land, sociologist Prem Chowdhry says."
"Mr Rahman, 30, was a computer graphics teacher from a Muslim family of modest means. His widow, Priyanka Todi, 23, is the daughter of a wealthy Hindu clothing manufacturer.
Investigators are now trying to determine whether Mr Rahman, 30, who was discovered in September lying dead on a city railway track with a head wound, committed suicide or was murdered.
"Their doomed relationship began after Miss Todi began attending the bookish Mr Rahman's computer classes at a private academy.
"They secretly married in August and she left her family's lavish suburban villa for his cramped apartment in a poor Muslim area of Calcutta.
"In response, her father, Ashok Todi, a prominent businessman, went to Mr Rahman's house with relatives. There, he dropped to his knees and clutched his daughter's feet, begging her to save him from the 'humiliation', saying: 'I cannot take a Muslim son-in-law'.
The young couple wrote to the city's police force, seeking protection. 'Some anti-socials are coming to our place and threatening us with dire consequences if we continue to stay together,' their letter said.
Senior officers, however, sided with Mr Todi, and even warned Mr Rahman that he would be charged with kidnap unless he relinquished his wife.
"In the aftermath, the Calcutta police commissioner, Prasun Mukherjee, sided with conservatives, suggesting that it was his force's job to help Mr Todi lure his daughter back.
"'After taking care of the daughter for 23 years, if the family finds one morning that she has left them to start a new life with an unknown youth, parents cannot accept it,' Mr Mukherjee said.
"His comments caused further public outcry and the city's authorities have now removed the police commissioner and four other senior officers from their posts."
"Nineteen-year-old Poonam's blank look speaks of the trauma she has suffered at the hands of her family. Her relatives, threw her into a canal at Tibbi, near Haryana's border with Rajasthan, and left her to die. All because she, a Jat girl, married a Dalit boy."
"A man set a fire last weekend that killed his pregnant daughter, his son-in-law and his 3-year-old grandson, prosecutors say, because he disapproved of his daughter’s marriage.
"The man, Subhash Chander, who lives in Oak Forest, a suburb south of here, told investigators that he was upset with his daughter, Monika Rani, and her husband, Rajesh Kumar, for what he saw as 'a cultural slight,' said Robert J. Milan, the first assistant state’s attorney of Cook County.
"Mr. Chander said that the couple had married without his consent and that Mr. Kumar was from a lower caste in India than Ms. Rani’s family, Mr. Milan said."
"This is the story of Manoj and Babli, but could well be the story of the many couples in Haryana who have lost their lives for the sake of 'honour' - family honour or community honour. In this case it is Jat honour, at Karoda village in Kaithal district.
"The duo who were in their early twenties eloped on April 6 as village elders would not allow them to marry because both belonged to the Banwala gotra. Marrying a person of the same gotra is taboo in most parts of Haryana."
Marriage and other relations within one's gotra, a claimed lineage within a caste that generally encompasses many millions of people, is thought to be incestuous. In this case, the couple disappeared after setting off to visit Babli's family, who happened to be much better off. But the police wouldn't help:
"As the police in both Karnal and Kaithal showed little interest in finding out the whereabouts of the couple, the family [of Manoj], despite its meagre resources, decided to investigate on its own. [...] On June 23, the bodies of the couple, with their hands and feet tied, were found in the Barwala branch canal in Hissar district.
"'There were maggots on the clothes, so we requested the policemen to get them washed. Instead, they gave us some soap and water and told us to wash the clothes,' said Seema and Chandrapati. 'It was my brother's shirt and there was my bhabhi's bangle too," said Seema, breaking into tears."
Once Manoj's family uncovered the crime and reported it to police, they were penalized by their own panchayat (village council):
"Karoda is among the bigger villages in Kaithal district. With a population of about 25,000, it has close to 10,000 voters, most of them Jats of the Banwala gotra, to which Gangraj belongs. The elected sarpanch of the village is a relative of Babli's family and is said to have played a partisan role in the case. 'What good was the panchayat to us? They are supposed to listen to our side of the story also. Instead they have imposed a social boycott on us and a fine of Rs.25,000 on anyone who interacts with us,' said Chandrapati [Manoj's mother].
"A village resident explained what the boycott meant. No one would sell to or buy anything from the family; none would talk to the family or visit it; no doctor would be allowed to visit the family; in school no teacher would teach Vinod; and no classmate would talk to him."
The killers have a lot of political support:
"[T]he Jat Mahasabha, a body representing the interests of Jats which is most active during the time of elections, is firmly behind Babli's family. The Mahasabha also holds strong views on social issues. In a statement to a Hindi newspaper, the Karnal Jat Mahasabha leadership extended its support to Babli's family stating that the couple had erred by getting married and that the murder was inevitable as the couple had left the accused with little choice.
"But more puzzling is the silence of the political parties barring the Left, be it the ruling Congress or the main opposition Indian National Lok Dal. It is, perhaps, yet another indication of the importance parties attach to caste support and 'gotra politics.'"
"Locals say the panchayat, or village council, was summoned into extraordinary session to consider the 'incestuous relationship' and the pair's defiance of the family.
"The couple were ordered to end their relationship. When they refused, the panchayat passed its verdict: a death sentence for lowering the standing of the Thakur community.
"The punishment was slow, painful and remorseless as the mob avenged the honour of the village. Only Mahesh's grandfather showed any sort of anguish, his conscience moving him to lodge a police complaint.
"An officer said yesterday charges had been laid against 12 villagers over the killings."
"It is not as if killings such as this one are restricted to the tribal belts of Pakistan or other Islamic societies. The rise in the number of murdered lovers makes it impossible to believe that honour killings are ‘new’ to Indian society. In fact, the first reported honour killing in Muzaffarnagar, a district in western Uttar Pradesh, which has gained notoriety for such slayings, goes back to 1993. Since then, the numbers have been rising. For instance, in Muzaffarnagar, 16 such deaths were reported in 2005 alone. Other districts in the state, such as Saharanpur, Bijnor, and now Agra, have also witnessed similar crimes. Significantly, the claim that honour killings are restricted to certain feudal pockets in north India is a dubious one. The day Gudiya and Mahesh were done to death in Nehra, Mohua Mondol, a girl from Purulia in West Bengal, was shot dead by her own father, for daring to fall in love.
"It is not as if the deaths go unreported. But the method that the Indian media employ while covering such events is quite interesting. The vernacular press resorts to sensationalizing such deaths. On most occasions, there is also a hidden moral tone, which helps to legitimize the violence in the name of punishing defiance. The English dailies, as well as the electronic media, invariably point to these killings as tangible proof of the failure of the country’s vast rural hinterland to keep pace with an enlightened, modern, urban India.
"The caste panchayats, which often order lovers to be strangled, burnt or hacked, are found to have a direct role to play in the violence. But they are by no means alone responsible for the assault or killings; a patriarchal society’s curious interpretation of ‘honour’ and its relationship with gender and caste are as important. But while a lot has been written on this interdependence of caste, honour and gender, caste panchayats and their sinister designs remain curiously under-reported in the media.
"The caste panchayat is different from the gram panchayat, which is an elected body, headed by the sarpanch. The former draws its legitimacy from its claims of being a self-appointed keeper of tradition, customs and cultural practices, while the latter is a representative of the law of the land. However, in India’s villages, it is the caste panchayat which serves as an extra-judicial agency, a parallel court of law that resolves ‘private’ disputes at the local level. Its macabre verdicts are often read out in the course of conciliatory meetings, known as shalishis in Bengal. The nature of the disputes vary — people approach the panchayat for settling altercations arising out of inter-caste marriage, elopement as well as supposedly incestuous unions, as was the case in Nehra. A careful scrutiny of the incidents of honour killings would show that in most cases, the caste panchayats have passed judgments in an arbitrary manner, and always in favour of those who wield real power — social, economic or otherwise — to ensure that the status quo remains undisturbed. A runaway couple, guilty of defying time-honoured traditions, is invariably doomed once the kangaroo court steps in.
"Significantly, it is not as if only couples hailing from different castes are murdered. Mahesh and Janaka, a married couple from the same caste, were abducted from Kanpur and taken to Chak Kushehari, their native village in central Uttar Pradesh. They were first tortured for two days, then taken to a paddy field where they were left to die after the bride’s father and his henchmen slit their throats. What binds the killings in different parts of the country is the violence that is inflicted on the victims. The caste panchayat will not tolerate any resistance to a set of archaic rules, which determine individual lives in the rural hinterland. The gruesome deaths are meant to remind the men and women the price one pays for love."
"While sati cases remain rare today, and India normally only has one every year or so, recent months have seen a surge: At least three widows have died on their husband’s pyres since August, and another was stopped from burning herself to death when villagers intervened.
"Experts can find no explanation for the increase. It’s possible that media reports and word-of-mouth lead to a copycat effect.
"But across rural India, it’s easy to find people who revere sati as the ultimate demonstration of womanly honor, devotion and piety. Thousands of sati temples have been erected over the centuries, many carefully preserved and still in daily use."
"Indian police have arrested four brothers for allegedly throwing their 95-year-old mother on to their father’s funeral pyre [...]
"The brothers and villagers initially said the woman, Kuria Devi, climbed into the flames by herself, committing sati, as the ritual suicide is known. Sati has been banned for nearly two centuries.
"But police investigating the death said she was too old and frail to have clambered up alone. Even if she did, none of the 20 people at the funeral stopped her, and would therefore be arrested for abetting sati, local police chief Chanchal Kumar told the Hindustan Times newspaper.
"India has struggled in recent decades to end sati. While rare, the practice persists mainly in rural regions where widows are often shunned because of a belief they will bring bad luck and tragedy to the community.
"The Asian Age newspaper quoted the brothers as saying they had no idea sati was illegal and they regarded it as an act of honour."
"'Papa is a mild man, but my mother and Dileep were violent. They were very proud of being Brahmin...thought women should never answer back, not make any choices. It just made me more determined to disobey them.'
"In October 2003, still an undergraduate student, Sushma capped that disobedience by leaving home and marrying neighbour and boyfriend Prabhu in the Bandra family court. Seven months on, she found herself a widow.
"Today, Sushma stays with her surviving in-laws, and says even if her now-freed parents try to call her or build a bridge, she is never going back. But she adds quietly, 'The truth is, I belong neither here nor there.'
"Studying for a masters degree, Sushma works with an NGO to keep herself and daughter Sona going. Days short of turning two, the cherubic girl is her mother’s solace. Sushma says, 'She is stubborn like me. I dream that she will become a pilot someday.'
"For herself, Sushma has aspirations of joining the police force. 'Otherwise, I am resigned to a lonely life.'"