Honor and respect in Indian society have always been the utmost priority for the backward families seeking so-called “relief” for the inter-caste marriages of their blood. In the Northern part of India, the rural families of mostly village areas consider their daughters as their “pride” and; to save their pride they kill their daughter’s loved ones. Casteism is a spot that blinds beings to ignore humanity and embrace the dominance of their own caste. Castes were the groups that were made to differentiate and characterize the features of different sections of society.
There have been many scars to the Indian society that have been removed at least theoretically and statutorily. Crimes like Sati Pratha, Child marriages, Female feticides, etc. have been in process of abolition from the country for decades. But the thinking of rural citizens is still not wide enough to believe in Equality and Human Rights. The preference for social evils over basic human rights has taken more lives than the usual crimes and; has also given enlightenment to Casteism and Racism in a society like India.
The basic reason behind honor killings is the idea that a family’s honor is tied to a woman’s chastity. Thus, a wide range of causes triggers honor killing such as marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, having unapproved relationships, refusing an arranged marriage, or even rape.
Honor killing in Haryana
In Haryana, Khap Panchayats oppose and; meet out punishments to couples who marry within the same gotra (lineage) or transgress other societal norms. Khap Panchayats have been on the radar of the Haryana Government as the Honor Killing leads have crossed milestones coming from them. Khap Panchayat is the union of a few villages, mainly in North India; though it exists in similar forms in the rest of the country. Lately, they have emerged as quasi-judicial bodies that pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs and traditions, often bordering on regressive measures to modern problems.
The sheer indifference of politicians and vote-bank politics allow the Khap Panchayat to run their cases in an old traditional way and embrace their unjustified and unconstitutional rules. The Court has provided for the death penalty to some of the murderers under Honor Killing. But the ties to politics have neither let Honor killing get its appropriate punishment under Murder 300 or be regarded as a separate offense.
Recently, Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited a Dalit girl in Haryana who committed suicide after being allegedly gang-raped. Though Sonia condemned the incident, she didn’t voice a word against the Congress-headed state government and didn’t consider the evils which need attention from the legal bodies.
Case of Manoj–Babli
In another case of Manoj–Babli of honor killing, the newlyweds Manoj Banwala and Babli were killed by relatives of Babli including grandfather Gangaraj, (who is said to have been a Khap leader), brother, maternal and paternal uncles, and two cousins. The learned Trial court in Haryana imposed exemplary punishment; only that the provocation for this instance of honor killings was not an inter-caste marriage. Instead, the Khap Panchayat “annulled” the marriage between Manoj and Babli on the grounds that; they were from within the same gotra (mythical patrilineal ancestor) and from the same village thus to be considered as brothers and sisters according to their rules.
The trial court awarded the death penalty to five persons; Babli’s brother, two uncles, and two cousins. Breaking patriarchal view, a life sentence to khap panchayat chief Ganga Raj was also given for conspiring with Babli’s family. It was stated that the khaps have become a law unto themselves, that they have ridiculed the Constitution. These unlawful acts of khaps should be stopped.
The Haryana government evidently did not appreciate the trial court’s outrage and; thus didn’t support the decision of the Trial Court. Far from cracking down on Khap Panchayats, the state gave a respectful consideration to their brazen demand that; the Hindu personal law is amended to prohibit intra-gotra marriages and give Honor killings a legal purpose and support. While Congress netas from Haryana visibly wilted under the pressure of khap panchayats, their central leadership, much in the same spirit of compromise, desisted from taking on those extra-constitutional entities. The central government, on its part, staged a somersault on whether there was a need for a special law to deal with honor killings.
A year ago, Home Minister P Chidambaram rejected the demand in Parliament saying; “The answer is not to make another law. Whatever law we make, honor killing is murder. It would have to be dealt with as murder and tried as murder. But the recent escalation of honor killings by Khap Panchayats prompted Chidambaram to resort to the time-tested ploy of enacting a new law as a substitute for enforcing the existing law. As of now, there are no strict laws considering the situation between the caste-followers and; the victims of such nonsensical rules causing people to lose their lives. There is an urgent need to regulate such rules grounded by communities like Khap Panchayats.
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