Sordid Saga of ‘honor killing’ in India

Nirupama Pathak, 22, a New Delhi based journalist, was allegedly murdered by her own mother. Her crime? She had wanted to marry a fellow journalist who belongs to a lower caste and she was pregnant.
Nirupama Pathak, 22, a New Delhi based journalist, was allegedly murdered by her own mother. Her crime? She had wanted to marry a fellow journalist who belongs to a lower caste and she was pregnant.

Delhi's honour killings: Family says 'well done' : June 2010

We INDIANS, may like to listen that India is going to be world power soon. We are certainly growing economy; we also boost sometime saying that we are more spiritual people in the world. We are one of the oldest civilizations. We may have many things to show the world that we are not less superior.

But here I am putting opposite view. We are not mature enough to claim big things. We are not mature enough to accept that everybody has right to live, everybody has some individual grace which is given by God. We can deny others, even our close one's, the basic right to life for so called beliefs and presumptions that we have developed out of our illiteracy and ignorance.

Few days back, I was stunned to see the news item in Daily, Times of India. It was Brutal killing of minor girl by her own parents and close relatives simply for the reason of her elopement with a boy. Police booked her parents along with other relative for killing but community feelings even dared to protest outside Police station demanding cancellation of police case. Police suspect that after killing she was cremated in hurried and secret way to destroy evidences of crime.

No doubt ‘Killing for honor’ is not new phenomenon in conservative and backward part of our society. There are so many incidents particularly in northern states where male family members attacked female family members and even killed them, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. There are many castes or social groups where female member are not given any chance to explain things, they are simply killed to remove stains on so called honor of society or family.

States like Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among most notorious states for honor killing. According to data compiled by the Punjab Police, 34 honor killings were reported in the state between 2008 and 2010. These figures are not final as it’s difficult to get precise numbers of honor killing; the murders frequently go unreported. Caste system in India has turned into a social evil for many, where more than 1000 young people are killed every year by their kin, or other members of their caste owing to ‘Honor Killings’. Situation turns more serious when females of family, mothers, mother in laws, sisters, and cousins also supports such incidents. Mentality that work behind such incidents is certainly strong, they listen no logic against.

In another recent incident happened in capital city delhi,Aisha Saini and Yogesh Kumar, both 19, were beaten with metal rods as the girl's family disapproved of the relationship because her boyfriend was from another caste.Police say Ms Saini's family feared she would elope with Yogesh and he was called to her uncle's home on the pretext of discussing the relationship. The couple were beaten with "iron rods and other blunt weapons" before being forced to sit on iron trunks to which live wires were attached and they were electrocuted.The uncle, Om Prakash, was unrepentant and said he did not regret the brutal murders being described as a case of honor killing. He told reporters that he had no regrets about committing the heinous crime.

Very recently father and brother of 20 year old women were sentenced to death for killing her and her husband for marrying within the same Hindu clan. India's top court recommended the death penalty for perpetrators of "honor killings," calling the practice barbaric and feudal.

In June 2010, scrutinizing the increasing number of honor killings, the Supreme Court of India issued notices to the Central Government and six states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to take preventive measures against honor killings.The court said it wanted them to explain what steps they had taken to protect young couples who are being threatened by their families and communities.

Khap Panchayat, community based social groups are playing very vital role in favor of honor killings. Khap is a cluster of villages united by caste and geography. It is as old as 14th century started by upper caste jats to consolidate their power and position. The main rule is that all boys and girls within a khap are considered siblings. Khap panchyat imposes its writ through social boycotts and fines and in most cases end up either killing or forcing the victims to commit suicide. All this is done in the name of brotherhood and its honour.

Very recently in April 2011, stressing that khap panchayats are illegal, and describing the honour killings they order as "shameful and barbaric", the Supreme Court said that police officials and bureaucrats who fail to check them should be punished. In it's verdict Supreme court said, "We have in recent years heard of khap panchayats (known as katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu) which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalized way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people...."

I am sorry to say that such measures and directions from Apex court are taken as simple warnings which often go unheard and crime is still going on. Innocents are still being killed in the name of family honor and criminals are portrayed like heroes. Sordid saga of honor killing should be stopped with heavy hands.

Source Reference: Times of India, Chandigarh dated June 24, 2011, NDTV

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Comments 28 comments

mkrandhawa profile image

mkrandhawa 5 years ago from India

your hub is great about the honor killing in India.Great


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Interesting .. I had no idea that this was still happening in India.

Killing for revenge or to 'save face' is a big problem worldwide ... one that will not go away for many years to come unfortunately.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@Mk Randhawa. Thanks for you valuable comment.To be young and in love has proved fatal for many young girls and boys in parts of north India. Such incidents indicate that we Indians are no more tolerant. Such crimes should be dealt with strong hands. People supporting such social evils must be discarded more aggressively.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This is a very insightful and profound article, Jaspals. You are so right - righteous power – democracy - can only be successful when everybody is mature and able to accept that everybody has the right to live AND the right to reap the fruit of their own honest labor.

It is wonderful to know that many people in your country, and actually in all countries, are able to distinguish between barbaric and righteous power. May the rest soon mature.


Bhanu.Jas profile image

Bhanu.Jas 5 years ago from Australia

Jaspal everyone has right to live as we live in a democratic country.The right to freedom,speech and expression is not slave of time,situation or any relation.It should be free will to fly like a bird with no boundaries.Very insightful hub.I am impressed with ur writings as u have a very soft corner in ur heart for change.

Great Hub.

Love to follow u.

Bhanu


Aamna Aamad profile image

Aamna Aamad 5 years ago from Pakistan

Great hub Jaspal, i have alot of that in my country too. no matter how modern we get but these honor killing never have an end.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@Aamna. Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. Situation in Pakistan is more worse. I read it some where women was killed by her own family members as she was raped and she was considered source of shame to family. A woman can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons, including infidelity, premarital sex or seeking a divorce from even an abusive husband.


netconnect profile image

netconnect 5 years ago from India

This hub reflects the mindset of people living in dark ages. Honor killings along with infanticide is a disease that India is living with all the time. Even the so called elected representatives of the state and country are unable to put in place the khap panchayats of Punjab and we talk about growing up to be a super power


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@Bhanu.Right to freedom of life and liberty are the basic fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. In spite of all provisions, our society is still lagging and not accepting more free air. Thanks for reading and adding your comments.Also thanks for appreciation.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@MartieCoetser. You are right. No doubt democracy as mode of governance is better than other forms like monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, theocracy or dictatorship but it may not always be suitable to produce 'good or required' results.It certainly requires mature people or members to succeed. We need more enlightened and educated masses to make system worth living.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@netconnect. Thanks for adding your comments. Khap Panchyat are prevalent in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Parts of Rajasthan. These are self styled setups which are governed by elderly persons of same caste or geography. Those living in a Khap are not allowed to marry in the same gotra or even in any gotra from the same village. Many young couples have been killed in the past defying khap rules. Due to the inherent weakness of democratically elected Panchayati Raj institutions, Khap panchayats are ruling.


netconnect profile image

netconnect 5 years ago from India

Nevertheless, we are tolerating and living with these things in our midst. We ought to get these things out of our system


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago

This is a very good hub about an evil which needs to be stopped. It even happens here in England.


lovaza 5 years ago

I have read several books about India and I'm aware about the caste system in your country. It's a shame that the there won't be more tolerance and acceptance of young couples who are wanting to get married and have lives of their own. Your hub will bring many readers aware of this situation.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@Hummingbird. Thanks for your valuable comments. In the UK, most honor killings involve South Asian parents or brothers killing girls whose lifestyles or ambitions they believe bring shame or disgrace upon their entire family. Cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, ignorance and rigidness in behavior are few reason behind such killings.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@Lovaza. As you said that you are aware of caste system in India, few communities in northern parts of India still behaving very rigid in their customs and traditions. In areas under khap panchyat influence, all children in village are considered as siblings. Love , emotions, understanding, consent before marriage are still not given any preference. They people simply force their dictates on their kids.


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 5 years ago from India

Hi Jaspals honour killing ( though there is no honour in it) is gaining ground and though it may be thousands of years old but it was unheard few years back and only came in to prominence only 4 or 5 years back. since then it is like fashion. This is most common in jat areas of haryana and what is worst is politicians dont dare to speak out against this as they fear that Jat Khaps might publically boycott them during the elections.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

Hi Sweetie. In one sentence, we have to stand against this evil. in the name of traditions, customs, society, we are killing innocent hearts. Let's lead some awareness movement for this cause. Waiting you reply.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

Very recently,in the first week of July 2011, another incident occurred which is suspected as honour killing, the body of a 20-year-old youth, who belonged to a Dalit family, was found on the bank of a canal in Badni village in Moga district of Punjab. Gagandeep Singh who was allegedly killed for having an affair with a Jat Sikh girl, of Lamma Jattpura village of Jagroan in Punjab, was missing after eloping with the girl. The couple was caught by the girl's relatives at Jagraon.

Acting on the complaint of the boy's family, the girl's three relatives were arrested and upon questioning they revealed having taken the boy to Badni area and murdering him, police said. A case of murder against the trio has been registered.


vijayanths 5 years ago

Informative hub.


ExoticHippieQueen 5 years ago

Such sad and terrible, stories, Jaspals! Each and every one of us emerges from the womb FREE! And from that moment on, it is the ambition of anyone and everyone to hold us back, tie us down, reign us in. Your country in particular must put a stop to these senseless killings, such as waste of young and promising lives, only because they choose to LOVE someone? This is the very reason we are on this earth is to LOVE! There is no worse crime on earth than man's own inhumanity to himself............. Voted up and interesting.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia Author

@ExoticHippieQueen. Thanks for adding your VALUABLE comments. During the last few decades, we, Indians have seen phenomenal development and progress in various areas but at the same time, we are still facing a number of problems. Honor killing is emerging as big problem in some areas in our country. There are very rigid communities that decide the destiny of young boys and girls and there is no value of human life for them. The government has to become more proactive, providing shelters and security to young peoples marring against wishes of their families. There is also a need to educate society.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

I admire your courage to write on such a sensitive issue. If you ask such a killer the reason, he or she would say straight,"I was living in shame day after day. Now I can walk with my chin up". This is part of culture and religion.

Once I was traveling in Mexico and had a good chat with a lady sitting in the next seat of the bus. She told me that her son would receive her when bus stops. I became a bit reserved when the bus reached its destination. Lo and behold, the son entered the bus, helped me with luggage, guided me to a hotel and left her mother for half an hour since he had to go for a while to some other place. I was flabbergasted and prespired with fright. To this the lady said if I was feeling uneasy, she can wait for her son in the lounge.

So dear Jaspals, it would centuries before events take turn for the good in our sub-continent.


mpoche4 profile image

mpoche4 4 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

Jaspals- Change does not happen over night, but it begins with one voice. I applaud you bringing light to such horrific events. It is so easy to turn the other way when you read a news article, but coming from someone such as yourself and depicted in your own words adds even more emphasis. It is hard for me to even fathom that people can be so cruel and unforgiving for what seem to be mild offenses on the innocent victim's part. It does seem that your government is making efforts to prosecute the "honor killers", but it still may take some time, like you said, to change an entire culture's perspective. Thank you for this hub.


Ndr 4 years ago

I watched o report on France 2 news about this issue. Such kind of issues shock the west, but i guess it is so entrenched in the mindset of these people that I feel it will take few more generations, where people are educated to change such beliefs. Yet I doubt and I'm afraid that the young educated generation too are tied with just beliefs about pride that they can also be ready to kill. Its definitely a cultural thing, preserving their honour can be prioritized against any other claims of human rights, to be free and choose how and with whom you want to make your life with. There should be more severe sanctions against such crimes of horror..........


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

This is a very sad thing, Jaspals. It is good that you are speaking out about this and making more people aware of this problem. I had no idea that this type of behavior still continues on such a large basis. There is such a thing as family honor, however, freedom should be formost. This is an excellent article, and I will be reading more from you. Thank you for your follow as well! Voted this up and interesting!


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very pathetic and social evil condition. How many more years we need to change our mindset to 21st century.


za bada 4 years ago

Caste is big issue in India.It is a crime who still practicing caste.All kind blood are red,including animal.Fake hindu religion teach caste.Walk away from both.And people will live more logically.

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