“A father in Bihar is suing his only son for defamation after he married a woman from a lower caste, saying he has damaged his reputation and social standing.
“Sidhnath Sharma is seeking one lakh in damages from his son Sushant Jasu and wants to prevent him from using the family surname. A court will hear his case this weekend.
“‘For ages, it has been an accepted tradition of arranged marriages within your own caste,’ Mr Sharma, a lawyer from the upper-case Bhumihar group told news agency AFP from his home in the town of Danapur, just outside Patna.
“‘But when my only son ended that, it not only stunned me, it also affected my social status,’ Mr Sharma said on Tuesday.
“His son, a tax official who works in the western state of Gujarat, married his now wife, a bank officer from Danapur, last November.”
“Indian law prevents discrimination against inter-caste marriage, but, in reality, many remain resistant to such unions in a country where, despite social change and rapid modernisation, tradition still holds sway.
“So-called ‘honour killings’ in which couples are shot, stabbed, lynched or poisoned are still carried out, although in decreasing numbers, as families attempt to defend their reputation thought sullied by a breach of strict caste-based rules. [...]
“Such prejudices mean such inter-caste marriages are few, although the numbers are growing, albeit slowly. Government figures show 9,623 marriages were recorded in 2012 between Dalits and partners from higher groups, compared to 7,617 the year before — a small figure in a country of 1.2 billion people where getting married is considered paramount.
“Local newspapers are full of advertisements from parents seeking partners for their son or daughter from the same caste, and arranged marriages are still common.
“‘Parents may agree with their child's choice (of partner),’ Srinivas Goli, a professor at the Giri Institute of Development Studies in the northern city of Lucknow, tells AFP. ‘But the families’ concerns about the reputation and respect for their families (by the community) often force them to go against’ their child’s choice in such cases, he says.
“Some families themselves fear marginalisation and even physical harm from the rest of the community, particularly in rural and remote areas, if they stand by their children's choices to break caste rules.
“In northern India, male-dominated khap panchayats or village committees wield huge influence in such matters and often act as a kind of moral police.
“Some issue outright bans on inter-caste marriages, while at the same time supporting child marriages within the same caste, according to women’s rights activist Jagmati Sangwan.
“In Haryana state, for example, where khap panchayats are dominant, Dalits are almost entirely landless. And Dalits marrying into higher castes threaten to ‘change the balance of power’ that has been in place for generations, says Sangwan.”
“G. Suresh, a youth belonging to the intermediate caste and a resident of Veppamarathoor village, married S. Sudha, a Dalit girl of Parayapatti village in Harur taluk, on April 21, 2010 with the consent of their parents.
“While their life was going smooth for two years, trouble started confronting the couple as villagers of Vepamarathoor came to know that Sudha belonged to a Dalit community. Subsequently, villagers ostracised the family of the couple.
“Sudha lodged a complaint with the Bommidi police and a case was registered against 22 persons, including former village panchayat president Ranganathan. However, police did not take any action on the accused.
“As cops did not provide a remedy to their problem, Sudha knocked the doors of Madras High Court on July 26, 2013, seeking adequate protection. The High Court directed the local administration and police to provide protection to the family.
“The couple also petitioned the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC), which directed the district administration and police to intervene into the issue.
“Following the NCSC direction, Revenue Divisional Officer Menaka, Harur DSP V Sampath visited Veppamarathor village to inquire into the issue. Soon after the officials left the village, villagers reportedly attacked the family members of Sudha.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“A -year-old school going dalit boy was inflicted with multiple injuries on his face for allegedly speaking to a non-dalit girl, aged 14, in Kumaram village near Madurai. [...]
“Police said the boy, N. Gokulakrishnan, was standing on the outskirts of his native Kumaram village near Alanganallur on the night of August 21 and was taking to his uncle Manimaran and relative Bharathi when the girl’s father, a non-dalit of the same village, attacked him. Mani, who came to the spot pulled out a knife and started stabbing the boy on the face. ‘The boy suffered deep cuts on the face, wrist, shoulder and ear. His uncle and relative Bharathi rescued him and fled the place,’ police said. [...]
“Two days before the attack, Mani had visited the house of the 14-year-old boy and threatened him of dire consequences if he continued speaking to his daughter. Subsequently, the boy’s relatives took the boy to Mani's house and explained that he was not harassing the girl. In spite of that, the boy was attacked, alleged the complaint.”
“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.”
“G. Suresh (31) belongs to the Vanniyar community and his wife S. Sudha (23) is a Dalit. Village elders belonging to the Vanniyar community have ordered a social boycott against them. [...]
“Trouble began around May-end when villagers at Veppamarathur collected Rs. 1,000 from every house to celebrate the Mariamman Temple festival. When they came to know that Suresh was married to a Dalit, they returned the money his family had contributed. [...]
“The village elders then convened a ‘panchayat’, which ordered that none from Suresh’s family should enter the temple. They were also barred them from drawing water from common facilities and other villagers were asked not to have any contact with the couple’s family. [...]
“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.”
“A couple who had married against the wishes of the girl's parents were thrashed by the girl's brother and an uncle on Wednesday, and have been admitted to the local civil hospital. Jasleen Kaur, a Jat and Pankaj Agnihotri, a Brahmin by caste, had been forced to marry in court in August 2012,as the former’s parents did not approve of their relationship due to their different castes. They said they had since been running from one place to another as Jasleen's maternal uncle had threatened to kill them.
“‘On Facebook, he had posted messages threatening to kill my brother and and also insulted my sister,’ said Pankaj.
“He claimed that they had returned to their native village Motian on May 6 as his father was ill. However, on May 8, his in-laws thrashed them up severely.
“‘A mob, including my younger brother, uncle, grandmother, aunt and others arrived at our doorstep. Without a word, my brother and uncle started beating me and my husband,’ said Jasleen.
“‘They were carrying baseball bats, rods and an iron chain. They dragged us out and tore my husband’s clothes. They threatened to drag him naked by tying him to their jeep. However, the villagers intervened and they left the place,’ alleged Jasleen, exhitibiing the bruises on her body. She said her uncle had threatened them to leave the village or face certain death.”
“Over 200 Dalits residing in Pabnawa village, around 25km from Kaithal, were lucky to have lost no lives to a violent mob of the dominant Ror community on Saturday night, but have been left without water supply since.
“Agitated after the recent elopement and marriage of a Dalit man with a woman from the landowning Ror community of the same village, the 400-strong mob barged into the settlement, Ambedkar Nagar, on Saturday night, and not only ransacked houses and shops but also damaged the locality's water tanks and six borewells, besides injuring three persons. Residents are now forced to procure drinking water from adjoining villages.
“As for the couple–Surya Kant (26) and Meena (21)–they have been in a protection home since their April 8 wedding, and the Kaithal police are guarding them on directions of the high court. After the attack, around 50 villagers including Surya Kant's relatives reportedly left the village for an undisclosed location. [...]
“Rajiv, another Dalit resident, insisted that the marriage had ‘indeed broken the bhaichara (brotherhood) of the village’, but noted, ‘The Rors now want to take revenge from the entire Dalit population and hatched a conspiracy to kill us. They had been asking us to hand over Meena to them, even when she married as per her free will and is staying with her husband at a police protection home.’
“Rors are a farming community who claim to be descendants of the Marathas who had fought the Second Battle of Panipat in the region and settled in pockets of Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts now. Their dominance stems from their ownership of significant chunks of land, though they are not otherwise considered high in the caste hierarchy.”
“Over 300 Dalit families of Deveerahalli Village, of Kudimenahalli Panchayat, in Krishnagiri district allege that they are being denied work by intermediate castes of the village and of six other nearby villages. The reason behind this, they say, is that a Dalit youth in their area had fallen in love with a girl of an intermediate caste from Sathinayakkanpatti under Damodarahalli Panchayat.
“The girl is back with her parents after the youth’s parents wanted her to go back, as they feared the type of mob furywhich was unleashed on three colonies in nearby Dharmapuri districtover a similar issue in November last year. But, the boycott of the Dalits of the Krishnagiri village continues though the affair had come to light in December and the girl had gone back to her home.
“Intermediate castes have banned Dalits from working on their agriculture fields, brick kilns and other income-earning activities since then. The decision to bar them from such forms of employment was allegedly taken by a ‘khap panchayat’ — a council of older persons who issue decrees to their community members on matters such as marriage — consisting of the leaders of seven villages, in and around Sathinayakkanpatti and Deevarahalli, on December 24 last year, alleged A. Manikandan, district convener of Naam Tamizhar Katchi.
“Many Dalits, who have also taken up the lands of intermediate caste on lease, for cultivation of crops, lost lakhs of rupees due to the economic boycott. They were not allowed to step into the farm lands.”
“A Dalit family from Rudreshwor in the district has been expelled from the village after one of the male members married a woman from an ‘upper-caste’ Dalit family.
“Mandodari Damai and eight other family members fled to the district headquarters three weeks ago after they were chased away by other Dalit villagers belonging to Wada and Pal castes. The dispute erupted after Mandodari’s son Naresh married a woman of the Wada community more than two years ago.
“The villagers had earlier driven away Naresh and his wife from the village and of late, they were persecuting the entire family members. Mandodari said people from Wada and Pal communities started mistreating and forced her family to leave the village immediately. [...]
“Naresh’s wife Baragrathi said her relatives not only disowned her but also tried to attack her and husband’s family members because she married to a man from a ‘lower-caste family’.”
“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.”
“As many as 268 dwellings–huts, tiled-roof and one- or two-room concrete houses–were torched by the mob after a caste Hindu man, Nagarajan, committed suicide over his daughter marrying a Dalit boy from one of the colonies. [...]
“It is said that Ilavarasan and Divya got married in a temple a month ago. Fearing attack by caste Hindus, the couple approached the Deputy Inspector of General of Police, Salem Range, Sanjay Kumar, only a week ago for protection. Though the police assured them safety, a kangaroo court directed Ilavarasan’s family to return the girl on Wednesday. The girl refused to go with her father, who later hanged himself at his house in Sellankottai, just half a km from the Dalit colonies. And then, the mobs went on the rampage.”
“An official estimate, though preliminary as claimed by Collector R. Lilly, has put the number of damaged households at 268. The three colonies in total have 500 houses, a strong concentration of Dalits in one single block in the district.
“Almost all the able-bodied youth from these colonies are working in Bangalore as construction workers, godown boys and collectors of used paper market for recycling. Their hard-earned money serves as solid investments in their native village. Some have become landholders. They grow maize, turmeric and tapioca in rain-fed conditions.
“‘For the past one decade, I have been working in a godown in Bangalore where they pay me Rs. 200 a day. I leave my wife and children back at the village. Our small but hard-earned savings of all these years have gone up in smoke in one single night of riot,’ laments Muniappa of Anna Nagar.
“Those who have suffered extensive damage claim that the mob, armed with deadly weapons and petrol bombs, indulged in four-hour looting. ‘We were chased out before they began their act. Almirahs were broken and valuables such as gold jewellery and cash stolen before the houses were either set on fire or damaged,’ said Rajalingam in Natham colony who runs a lucrative business in used paper market in Bangalore.”
“In an India that is fractured along caste lines, a marriage is never the simple establishment of a relationship between two independent, adult individuals. Instead, it can involve not only the two families, but whole communities as well. An inter-caste marriage without parental approval is, therefore, a potential trigger for violence in rural India. The caste group that is relatively higher in the social hierarchy sees any such marriage as a social affront, especially if the other caste group is Dalit. Wednesday’s attack on three Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, which ended in the burning down of 268 houses, is another shocking instance of how social stigmas engendered by caste identities can provoke large-scale violence. The arson was the immediate fallout of the suicide of a caste Hindu man whose daughter had married a Dalit living in one of the colonies. Apparently unable to accept his daughter’s decision to marry a Dalit, the man opted to end his life. For a bride’s family, especially if it is higher in the caste ladder, the socially-sanctioned stigma associated with an inter-caste marriage is greater. Women carry a far heavier responsibility of having to protect the “family honour”, which is a euphemism for the feudal notions of social status and acceptance held by the senior male members of the family. Indeed, the prevalence of such notions is an indicator of the secondary status accorded to women in these communities.
“Worryingly, in rural Tamil Nadu where caste conflicts over marriages, religious rituals or access to public resources are common, the police were slow to sense the potential for trouble. A few days before the violence, the newly wedded couple had approached the police for protection fearing attacks by members of the bride’s community. Other than providing assurances and holding out promises, the police seem to have taken no preventive steps. A self-styled court in the village ordered the Dalit man to send his wife back to her parents, but the woman refused to leave her husband. This should have alerted the police to the possibility of trouble. Although the suicide, the immediate trigger for the attack, could not have been predicted or prevented, the police had adequate reason to apprehend the tensions and ample time to take precautionary steps. The only reason that none in the Dalit colonies suffered any bodily harm is that all the residents had left their homes and taken shelter in another village. Social stigmas and caste inequalities cannot be wiped out overnight, but surely the law enforcers can show greater anticipation and quicker reflexes in familiar situations that give rise to tensions between caste groups.”
“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.”
“A Dalit youth, who had married an upper-caste girl against the wishes of her family, was stabbed, and his wife abducted by his in-laws in Motihari town in Bihar's east Champaran district nearly 10 days ago, is seeking justice from the hospital bed as he has been put under police detention.
“‘I was put in police detention and handcuffed in the hospital where I am under treatment after being stabbed 20 times by my in-laws, who also abducted my wife, in an old case filed by my father in law, which is baseless. It appears to me that police is more keen to torture me instead to recover my wife and arrest the named accused in my complaint,’ Krishna Prasad Ram, the 24-year-old victim said.
“Ram told rediff.com over telephone from his hospital bed that the police is behaving as if he is the real criminal, but the fact is that at the time of his court marriage a year ago, he and his wife Khushboo Singh were adults, and India's constitution allows an adult to marry or choose his life partner.
“‘Nine police personnel have been deputed for my security and surveillance round the clock, despite the fact that they handcuffed me during treatment at the Sadar Hospital,’ he said.
“Ram was 23 and Khushboo was 21 when they got married. ‘Even if we were forced to to elope after her family opposed, it was not a crime as both of us were adults and consenting adults,’ Ram said.”
“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.”
“Singh’s problems started when he fell in love and married a Maharashtrian girl from a dalit (lower caste) family.
“‘My parents had passed away and my sisters were by then married. When I went back to my village, I had to face angry relatives, who threatened to teach me a lesson for marrying a dalit girl. They said I had brought shame upon the thakur (upper caste) family we belong to.
“‘The villagers declared me an outcast and my relatives reported me “missing”. Soon after, my cousins, who are politically well connected, prepared fake documents and declared me “dead”. They have since grabbed my land and property.’
“Singh’s battle in the court to get back his identity and land bore no result, as the date of hearing kept being postponed for many years. ‘I had no money left to pay the lawyer and he ditched me,’ he says dejectedly. [...]
“Remonstrating just a couple of kilometres away from where the high-and-mighty political leaders reside, he laments, ‘Except assurances, I have received nothing. Even the police sided with my cousins and beat me up mercilessly, due to which my left ear drum is permanently damaged.’”
“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.”
“A 27-year-old Dalit man in Haryana was allegedly humiliated and sent into exile for 11 years over his love affair with a higher-caste girl.
“His face was painted black as he was thrown out by his village panchayat. The panchayat at Putthi Samain village near Narnaund police station of Hisar district also fined him Rs 21,000. [...]
“In his complaint, the man said he fell in love with the girl from the same village while they were studying at a coaching institution in Meham tehsil. He alleged that when the girl’s parents came to know of the affair, they took the matter to the village panchayat.
When he appeared before the panchayat on 31 May, its members reprimanded him, blackened his face and exiled him. The girl’s father also married her off on 2 June.”
“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.”
“It is important to mention that any unmarried, sane, consenting adults (where the bridegroom is over 21 years of age and the bride is over 18 and who are unrelated within the degrees of prohibited relationship), irrespective of faith or caste, can get married under the Special Marriage Act. The couple from Rajasthan, who come from an inter-caste background, could have done so too. So why did they decide to have a religious marriage ceremony? It was almost certainly because they wanted to make sure their parents did not receive any intimation about their marriage through the official notice – as would any couple who anticipated threats to their life and liberty. [...]
“Barring Delhi, all other states follow the dangerous practice of sending a copy of the notice of intended marriage to the permanent addresses of the marrying couples [in non-religious ceremonies under the Special Marriages Act]. Thanks to the initiatives of the Delhi government and a landmark judgement by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi high court in April 2009, the practice of sending notices to the homes of couples desirous of solemnising their marriage under the Special Marriage Act was curbed. However, it has not been completely discontinued, as the officials fear the wrath of the parents of marrying couples.
“The administrations in Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are not even willing to bear the expenses of dispatching notices and they insist that couples provide pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes beforehand. Couples also have to publish an advertisement of their proposed marriage in a leading newspaper and submit a copy of the published advertisement to the marriage officer’s office. In Gurgaon, the concerned deputy commissioner’s office has taken the pains to add a column for specifying the applicants’ religion in the ‘Intent to Marry’ form and an additional point about the citizenship of the applicants in the declaration form. I wonder why religion should be mentioned at all in the one legally recognised marriage procedure intended to be outside the realms of faith or caste.
“The Gurgaon office also requires that couples provide envelopes bearing the names and designations of the marriage officers in districts where the applicants permanently reside. I can only speculate on the amount of homework a couple has to do before they file their application. A marriage cannot be solemnised under the Special Marriage Act without receipt of a verification report from the concerned tehsildar; and the report will not, of course, be issued as a matter of routine. The couple has to take great pains to ensure that the report is in fact released by the tehsildar’s office.
“Looking at just a few of the requirements essential for marriage under the Special Marriage Act, one can safely say that no couple would choose to go through the traumatic experience on its own. So those couples who are still determined to get married under the Special Marriage Act are forced to engage an advocate and shell out a large sum of money for his/her fees. Unfortunately, the majority of couples cannot afford the services of an advocate and thus, confronted by various hostile and complex sociopolitical pressures, they are forced to opt for a religious form of marriage.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
"'The 15-year-old [dalit] boy's letter to the eight standard [upper-caste] girl enraged the girl's relatives. They came to our kheri and picked up a fight and bashed up at least eight members of our community,' a girl from the Dalit kheri told DNA.
"The Dalits thought it was over but the next day, when some women from their community went to fetch water from the farm, they were told to leave. 'They said they won't give water to people from the Dalit community. They abused us, and asked us how a boy from our community could dare to write a love letter,' the girl added.
"It got worse. The Dalits were shooed away from tea shops in the village. They were told to stay away from Gowda farms, from where they were drawing water. Nobody in the Dalit kheri wants to talk about the incident."
"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."
"Asha accused a local upper-caste man of raping her last year. It was no small matter for her to go to the police in Indian rural society, where being a victim of rape is still considered deeply shameful.... In the villages, a man accused of rape may be found guilty and punished by the courts. But a woman who comes forward as a rape victim is certain of her punishment by society. She faces little prospect of marriage, and life for an unmarried woman in the villages is bleak."
"'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.'"