Honour Killings in Punjab
It's my second article on honour killings. The reason being simple, there are a lot of media reports that are making 'alarming signals' in our minds. The problem of 'horrific and shameful practice of honour killings' has aggravated in Punjab, one of the progressive states, where most people have faith in Sikhism, the most modern religion, always preaching equality, human rights, and casteless society. During the last few months, there have been several cases reported in media as 'honour killings. Young couples are being kidnapped and murdered. They are paying for their love with their lives, and all is ending in just ‘News Headlines’.
A few days back, a panic-stricken couple appeared in Punjab and Haryana High Court, saying that their lives are in grave danger. Their crime was marrying against the wishes of few close ones. Couples staying in protection homes feared that they would be killed in the 'classic way' of honour killing as soon as they step out. How shameful what is happening, and still, we claim to be modern and advance people. Our organizations, social, political, and religious groups are keeping mum on the issue. Brutal killings are being made in the name of upholding family honour.
In one of the latest cases, a 20-year-old youth, who belonged to a Dalit family, who had tried to elope with a girl from the land-owning Jat community, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by his girlfriend's family members in Ludhiana district on 4th July. His body was found on the bank of a canal in Badni village in the Moga district of Punjab. He was missing after eloping with the girl. 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 the Badni area and murdering him. A case of murder against the trio has been registered.
In another instance of the ghastly crime, a man named Pardeep was murdered by around 10 people, including his wife's brother, in Nawanshahar on June 26. Pardeep had married Balwinder Kaur, who belonged to a different caste, in February this year. In Bhullar village of Amritsar district, a young couple was brutally killed with sharp-edged weapons by a girl’s family members. Later on, their bodies were thrown at an isolated place. They were from the same caste and were going around with each other for the last few months.
Very recently, on 7th July, a 22-year-old youth was killed allegedly by the parents of the girl with whom he had eloped two years ago, in Nathuchahal village of the district Kapurthala. The body of Kuldip Singh, bearing several injury marks, was found in fields near Nathuchahal village, where the girl lived. As reports say, Kuldip had an affair with a girl and in 2009 had eloped with her. On the kidnapping complaint, he was arrested and remained in jail for 11 months before being acquitted by the court. Later boy’s family sold their property and moved to Uttar Pradesh, another state. He came to meet the girl and was spotted by the parents of the girl and was killed.
Protection Centres in Punjab:
To prevent and keep a check on honour killing, the government has created protection centres at the district level in Punjab. These centres are established to give protection to newly married couples who had married outside their castes. Where newly couples feel the danger to their lives, they will be given protection besides boarding and lodging for the period of six weeks after the marriage in these protection centres. No doubt it’s a good step at the administration level, but there is a lot to be done in this direction. Government has to become more proactive. Providing shelters to runaway couples and mere protection will not serve the purpose.
Willingness and Actions are required:
To change the mentality of people, we have to make more practical laws. The willingness of governments is the fundamental thing required. In the ‘politics of vote bank’, we are not able to take the right steps. As per media reports, the central government has tried to wash its hands off the unabated rise in honour crime cases in the country. In an affidavit submitted to the apex court, the government tried to link honour crimes with personal laws. The affidavit says that the government has adopted a policy of non-interference in the personal laws of any community. This approach of a democratic government is nothing but based on the power politics of the vote bank. No personal laws can be allowed to kill people as we are living in a free country.
On the other side, a little hope can be seen in the Home ministry’s step to constitute a Group of Ministers to debate the need of amending the IPC ( Indian Penal Code) or a separate law on honour killings. In my opinion, a separate law is an immediate need to tackle this crime. Separate courts should be formed to handle cases on a priority basis. NGOs and other social and religious bodies can play their role in educating the masses against honour killing. We are people having faith in humanity, and we cannot tolerate such inhumane practices.
Source Reference: Note: The article is written in July 2011, so all dates belong to 2011
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Jaspal Singh