Stamp out kangaroo courts

Panchayat orders gouging lovers’ eyes

Panchayat orders gouging lovers’ eyes

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The incident in Subalpur village in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, in which a 20-year-old tribal woman was gang-raped by a dozen men as punishment for alleged immoral conduct, is shocking in its unimaginable brutality and points to a larger malaise. The order by a kangaroo court led by a village headman is proof that a section of rural India is outside the pale of the country’s constitutional values and judicial system. Ill-informed men with medieval social attitudes and patriarchal prejudices are allowed to adjudicate on the conduct and morality of women and pass unconscionable forms of punishment, such as social ostracism, payment of arbitrary fines and, as in this case, sexual violence in lieu of monetary penalty. The Supreme Court and the National Commission for Women have taken suo motu cognisance of the incident, which has caused widespread outrage and revulsion. The West Bengal government, which has been sharply criticised in recent times for callousness and insensitivity towards crimes against women, has seen to it that the village headman and the 12 men who raped the hapless woman for a whole night have been arrested. And Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, upset that the police did not seek custody of the accused for questioning and allowed them to be sent to prison directly, has ordered the suspension of the Superintendent of Police. It is disturbing that the entire village, including women, backed the kangaroo court by whose verdict the man could get away with a fine, but the woman was punished for not having the means to do so.

Outposts of feudalism still thrive in vast swathes of rural India, ranging from khap panchayats in the north to caste-based gatherings of village elders in the south. In 2011, the Supreme Court wanted illegal khap panchayats that encourage ‘honour killings’ or other institutionalised atrocities to be stamped out ruthlessly. Over a year has elapsed since the country voiced its anger against sexual violence targeted at women and seemed to take a collective vow to ensure the protection of all women. The penal law on sexual violence and harassment has been strengthened significantly since then. Yet, India’s cities and villages continue to be unsafe for women. The locus of sexual violence is everywhere: in public spaces and private homes, under the cloak of darkness and in the open, and perpetrated by well-acquainted persons as also as by strangers. The Birbhum incident is a chilling reminder that legal processes, security measures and stringent laws are not enough. Social attitudes need to change, reflecting liberal and humane values, if the country is to ensure gender equality and protection for all its women.

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Till ‘honour’ do them part

 

Till ‘honour’ do them part

GITANJALI GAYATRI – PUBLISHED IN THE TRIBUNE

Young and defiant boys and girls in Haryana end up losing their life over the families’ sense of ‘honour’. A feudal mindset is pitted against the youth that is embracing modernity, and love. Education, separate legislation for such killings and banning khaps are what some experts pin their hopes on.

The gates of the temple at the entrance of Garnawati village in Rohtak are shut. Even at 10 am. God has been locked in. He seems to be at the mercy of village residents, as were Nidhi Barak and Dharmender Barak on the fateful evening of September 18 when they were hacked as the sun went down.

Nobody even winced, let alone come forward to save the couple from the hands of rage-driven Narender, alias Billu, who executed the cold-blooded murders in his courtyard. He dismembered the bodies of his only daughter Nidhi and her beau Dharmender for the most ‘heinous’ of all crimes — falling in love. Their audacity was more pronounced since the two belonged to the same village and shared the same ‘gotra’ of the Jat community. They had put their love before family honour, which was, of course, unpardonable.

As dusk descended and darkness deepened that evening, ‘honour’ left the village, draped in a dishonourable shroud. It took the red hue from the blood on the family’s hands. It stole the crackle from the fires that lapped up Nidhi and Dharmender’s pyres. It also became the silence of the villagers.

Fear did not give birth to this silence that sewed up every mouth in the village. Neither did ignorance of what had transpired. It was the eerie silence of quiet acceptance that screamed that archaic beliefs of a regressive society carried more weight; were thicker than blood and far superior than a couple of human lives; that the social rules of the village were sacrosanct and anybody who messed with them would meet the same fate — death.

Less than a week after the couple’s senseless murder in Rohtak, Sat Narayan, belonging to the SC community and a resident of Bhapoli village in Panipat, allegedly murdered his 19-year-old daughter Meenakshi in the name of honour. She was killed and hurriedly cremated on the banks of the Yamuna for daring to marry a boy from the Gujjar community against her parents’ wishes.

While their paths may have never crossed and they lived oblivious of each other, Nidhi and Meenakshi met the same fate at the hands of a family that should have stood by them. Their barbaric killing, once again, brought the spotlight on the stagnant near-fanatic mindset of a closed society with no qualms and regrets about murder. Only the blood of their own can wash away the stain and stigma of dishonour, or so they think. The dust of dead customs, however, still clings to them.

Indoctrination for decades

In Haryana, honour is synonymous with expression of choice. The moment a youth decides to execute choice in marriage, the family honour takes a hit. This honour, however, gets away unblemished when the same family faces trial for dowry death, rape charges or even domestic violence. So, the question of honour of a family boils down only to the issue of picking a life partner.

Social observers feel that the roots of this honour go deeper than thought. Hindi writer and former academician, Dr Subha, puts honour killings down to one reason alone —property.

“Ours is a patriarchal society where a daughter is simply to be married off and forgotten. As progress is making inroads into this closed society and boys and girls are opening up to the many possibilities before them, the so-called traditionalists fear the youth will assert itself. If married in the same village, or to a boy of their choice, the society feels it is allowing elements of democratisation to take seed. This means the end of khaps. They fear a backlash in the form of girls seeking property and other rights. ‘Gotra’ rows, pressure building and whimsical pronouncements are the armour against openness,” she insists, adding the recent diktats asking girls not to wear jeans or carry mobiles or even venture out of homes alone are an attempt to keep a hold on people.

Having travelled extensively in Haryana, her experience is that the khaps do not recognise the right of a lower caste to agree or disagree with their decisions. What is once decided has to be adhered to without question. “They generally target lower castes or the financially weak while the upper caste gets away with everything. They may or may not be directly involved in honour killings, just the way they have washed their hands of the Garnawati case. But the truth is that they exert much pressure,” she says.

The boys and girls in the village are fed on the ‘golden’ rules by the khaps. Consequently, they grow up believing that all boys and girls of a village are brother and sister; falling in love is a crime; nobody can marry in similar ‘gotras’; and they cannot marry in the neighbouring village because it is detrimental to ‘village brotherhood’.

Three girls we spoke to at Garnawati were appalled that a boy and girl could marry anybody they chose without worrying about the caste and ‘gotra’. “We focus on our studies. Love figures nowhere. We do not want to meet the same fate as Dharmender and Nidhi,” they remark.

Need for separate legislation

Though such killings are rampant not only in Haryana, but also neighbouring states of Punjab and Rajasthan, the law seems ill-equipped to deal with the enormity of this crime. As in the Garnawati case, the panchayat shrugged off responsibility, claiming that the “issue was between two families and the village had nothing to do with it”. However, it is strange that there are no witnesses to the two murders. The case was registered on the statement of a police official.

The whole village speaks only in one voice — silence. This conspiracy of silence means that the villagers approve of the murders and nobody comes forward with any information. In some cases, the perpetrators of the crime get away with impunity for lack of evidence.

Dr Manjeet Rathi of All India Democratic Women Association says: “The present provisions in law are not enough to deal with ‘honour’ killings. Slapping a murder case against the accused is no deterrent. There is urgent need of a legislation that punishes not only those who murder, but also those who stand as mute spectators and are directly or indirectly involved with the murder. We drafted a legislation and submitted it to the Home Minister with one lakh signatures. However, nothing came of it.”

Though the Supreme Court has observed that ‘honour’ killings should be treated as the “rarest of rare crime and those perpetrating it should be sent to the gallows”, the killings have not got the attention they deserve.

Call it lack of political will or the fear of a backlash from the communities which have granted it sanctity, Haryana and other states are opposed to the idea of a legislation to deal with this menace.

The Central government had initiated steps to bring about a separate law on ‘honour’ killings, but it was shelved after a number of states failed to give a feedback, indicative of the disinterest in the subject. Resultantly, all the law provides for is to book the perpetrator of the crime for murder while the others get away.

The change has begun

Despite pessimism and the snail-speed with which things are moving, there may still be a ray of hope. The khaps and their parallel structures are crumbling. As more and more youth step out into the world and interact on various platforms, the divide between castes and ‘gotras’ is diminishing. Even though a big section of the villagers chooses to remain silent after a heinous killing, it does not necessarily mean it gives sanction to such crimes. It only means these people are too weak to break free and find their voice to stand up for what is right.

“Despite the killings, the fact that boys and girls are falling in love and standing by each other even in death is a sign that the influence of the khaps is waning. The identity of the khaps is being challenged from various quarters — whether it is the Dalit movement, women’s movement or law. They are being questioned and pressured into softening their stance. We, however, need a separate legislation and make everybody from the local MP, MLA, and the district administration accountable if and when such a crime happens,” says Dr Subha.

Claiming that an inter-caste or same ‘gotra’ marriage is not only seen as a stigma on the family, but also the entire village and democratic thinking is a taboo, Dr Ahlawat says that the elected panchayat also plays vote-bank politics by protecting the guilty. “Though every village may not have a khap, its representatives are spread all over. Sometimes, these members make up the panchayat also. Living in a village, it becomes impossible to flow against the tide since the earnings and livelihood of a family is connected to agriculture. Since youths depend on farming, they are unable to sustain themselves economically. They will be forced to return to the village and will be killed. Economic independence by way of better education holds the key to liberation from the clutches of regressive tradition.”

Recommending a multi-pronged strategy, Dr Rathi is clear that a separate legislation to deal with ‘honour’ killings is half the battle won. “A social movement to change mindsets, a ban on khaps, model punishments and involvement of a number of social organisations will also make a difference. Most organisations reach a village after a crime has been committed. A continuous comprehensive engagement with villagers could go a long way in checking such crimes. This is a fight between tradition and modernity and the more violent the khaps get, the closer they are to extinction,” she says.

Nothing stays forever. A straight tree falls first during a storm. Survival for too long, given their rigidity, is an uphill task for the khaps. Whether they will come to terms with the change or break as the winds blow against them is their call. Either way, love will find a way.

Khaps in a time warp

Nidhi and Meenakshi’s is not a stray case in patriarchal Haryana where all honour talk seems to converge and rest on the shoulders of women who have no choice but to drag the dead weight all their lives. Despite carrying this burden in a male-centric society, they remain unwanted.

In a state notorious for foeticide and a sex ratio that brackets it with the ‘poorest performers’ in the country, the rising economic indices have little meaning. This upward swing is eroded and negated by a society living in its past, stuck in the quagmire of meaningless norms, wary of shaking off its blinkers. While prosperity has multiplied and demographic dynamics have altered, this is one society that refuses to grow, is averse to social change and deflects ‘newly fangled’ ideas with a wave of the hand.

‘Honour’ killings, common in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and a few pockets of Delhi, draw blood as also a sense of legitimacy from the very society these thrive in, with the support of a powerful force that works behind the scenes and within it.

These undisputed torchbearers of tradition are the khaps, instructing and ensuring the social fabric remains untouched by ‘defiled’ influences of modernity.

The khap leaders are a handful of self-appointed, self-styled protectors of the ‘purity’ of the Jat community in rural Haryana. Baljit Malik, a leader of the Jathwala khap, says: “We do not subscribe to these killings. It is the families that execute such murders. Khaps are needed today like never before, given the exposure to the outside world. The village cannot depart from conventions which form the basis of civilisation.” He is speechless when asked why they do not issue fatwa, osctracising families indulging in such killings or repressing women.

The authority the khap has in a village makes its leaders demigods. Their word is law and any digression is enough to invite the severest punishment.

“Since the times of the Mughals, the khaps have been traditional village councils. They played a constructive role in protecting communities and property from invaders. But they lost relevance when panchayats took on the role of taking decisions. Unwilling to let go of the glory, the khaps are trying to save themselves from extinction by fuelling negative emotions and issuing preposterous diktats,” says Dr Neerja Ahlawat, a sociologist at Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak.

THEY DIED FOR HONOUR

Manoj and Babli from Karora village in Kaithal district were murdered by the latter’s relatives in June 2007 on the diktats of a khap panchayat for marrying within the same ‘gotra’. The were killed near a toll plaza. In March 2010, a Karnal district court had awarded death sentence to Babli’s brother, uncles and cousins for killing the couple. A leader of the Banwala khap was awarded life sentence for hatching the plot.

Monika (18) of Neemdiwala village and Pradeep (19) of Manheru village, Bhiwani district, were found hanging from a tree in June 2010. The couple was killed and then hanged to give an impression of suicide. They were planning to marry but their parents were against the alliance. A case of murder was registered against six persons, including Monika’s parents, two brothers, uncle and aunt.

The decomposed bodies of Inder Pal (22), a farmhand, and Maya (18) were recovered from the fields of Phoolkan village, Sirsa, in September 2010. The couple were neighbours and wanted to marry. They were killed by the boy’s family. Inder was forcibly married two months before the couple was killed.

A mob lynched Vedpal Mor of Matour village, Jind, when he accompanied a court’s warrant officer to get back his wife Sonia of Singhwal village, Narwana, in July 2010. They had married in court against their parents’ wishes. Sonia had returned to her village and Vedpal had filed a petition in the High Court. A case was registered against Sonia’s family.

Never A More Hateful Word Than Love

MANOJ AND BABLI

PREM CHOUDHURY IN THE OUTLOOK

Both the author of the book and Penguin, her publisher, deserve to be complimented for bringing out a timely, well-researched book, imaginatively reconstructed from facts. It recounts a chilling saga of brutal torture and murder of Manoj and Babli of village Karoran in Haryana in 2007. The couple had violated the caste norms of gotra (patrilineal clan) and village exogamy by eloping and getting married. For this they were brutally tortured and murdered by affluent and influential family members-cum-‘well-wishers’ of the girl, instructed, gui­ded and fully supported by khap panchayats and politicians. Although a chilling account, it is also, curiously, a heartening one. It underlines the triumph of human rights and human spirit over customs that decree violence and death. Written by a journalist who was involved in inv­estigating this murder—declared an ‘hon­our crime’—it shook up India’s conscience as never before, leading to the mooting of several changes in law. The media played an important role, carrying out a relentless expose of the case for days. This case culminated in a landmark judgement delivered by district session judge Vani Gopal Sharma in 2010. The five accused were given death sentences, and one was sentenced to life.

Written in a lucid style, the book captures the sight and sound of the village and its daily life, besides being a mine of information. Along with Nakul Sawhney’s film Izzat Nagri ki Asabhya Betiyan (The Immoral Daughters Of The Land Of Honour, 2012), on the same case, Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story should go down as archival material for researchers.

In this sordid saga, two heartening features relating to women and youth in Haryana emerge. One, women’s agency comes to the surface; as they man­age to assert themselves with heavy odds sta­cked against them. Chanderpati, the wid­­owed, illiterate mother of Manoj, fou­ght a determined, prolonged, costly court battle, and withstood socio-economic boycott; Seema, the young sister fighting for justice for her slain brother and his wife, worked full-time to support her fam­ily; Jagmati of the AIDWA, who relentlessly pursued the case with other women activists; and finally the female judge of Karnal who, in the face of life threats, delivered a bold judgement. These are empowered women who are charting a new way and represent a gro­wing change among Haryana’s women.

The second bright point is the evidence, however faint, of the growing opposition to injustice among Haryana’s youth. Slowly but surely, they are picking up courage to defy the unjust norms which go against all human rights and the constitution of the country; they are also raising their voices against repression and violence. As opposed to these, there are politicians of all hues and ages, whether current Chief Minister Hooda, former CM Chautala, or a foreign-educated and youthful Naveen Jindal, who blindly support the khap panchayats and their violent, illegal and dictatorial ways. All of them are concerned more with their elusive votebanks than with lives of people or violence inflicted upon them. The tragedy of Haryana lies in the contradiction of being a ‘modern affluent state’ minus a modern mindset.


(Prof Prem Chowdhry is the author of Contentious Marriages, Eloping Couples: Gender, Caste and Patriarchy in Northern India, OUP)

Couple who went against kin to marry found hanging from tree

Couple who went against kin to marry found hanging from tree

INDIAN EXPRESS

The bodies of a young couple, who got married against the wishes of their parents four months ago, were found hanging from a tree on Monday at Ahmedwas Khera village in Bhiwani district’s Loharu. Though the police are considering it to be a case of suicide, it is yet to rule out the possibility of foul play.

Residents of the same village, while Tejpal (24) belonged to the Swarn Samaj, his wife Sushila (20) was a Dalit. The duo went missing on August 10 after their parents objected to their marriage. They got married at an Arya Samaj temple at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and got their marriage registered on August 14. Following this, they started living at Pilani in Rajasthan.

According to the police, Tejpal and Sushila had come to Ahmedwas on Sunday. Sushila’s parents informed the police and raised apprehension about a clash between them and Tejpal’s family. Following this, the police provided protection to the couple and brought them to the police station. However, the couple gave in writing that they did not want police protection and were returning to Pilani. The couple left the police station on Sunday evening.

On Monday morning, the police came to know that the couple was found hanging from a tree near the cremation ground in Ahmedwas. “So far, it does not appear as a case of murder but the possibility cannot be ruled out. Prima facie it appears to be a case of suicide and since the boy’s family had not raised any suspicion so far, we are not considering it to be murder or honour killing,” DSP Suresh Kumar said.

The police said that Sushila had completed her higher secondary education and wanted to join the Haryana Police, for which she was taking coaching classes in Rajasthan. For the last few days, Tejpal and Sushila were visiting her school in Loharu for getting her 10+2 certificate. As the girl’s family had confiscated her educational certificates, Tejpal and Sushila had even moved an application before the Bhiwani sub-divisional magistrate for duplicate copies. The fate of their application is pending, said police.

“It appears to be a the case of suicide, but we are investigating the matter. I have spoken with both the families and it does not look like a case of honour killing. We are working on various theories,” said Bhiwani SP Simardeep Singh.

When contacted, Tejpal’s uncle Ravinder claimed there was no foul play involved in the case. “Tejpal and Sushila got married against the wishes of their families. We had not harmed them ever. We do not suspect any foul play. Since, they did not have any support from their parents and had no adequate means of earning, they may have committed suicide,” he said.

INDIAN EXPRESS

Put prohibitory orders in place against Khap panchayats: SC

THE PIONEER

The Supreme Court on Monday suggested its amicus curiae to devise a strict legal regime to contain honour killings, wherein the focus should be on enforcing prohibitory orders against khap panchayats rather than on securing the arrest of its members that often leads to law and order problems.

The SC spoke of its mind following the report by amicus curiae senior advocate Raju Ramachandran and advocate Gaurav Agarwal. In their report, they urged the apex court to adopt harsh action including arrest of khap members in north India who, of late, conducted themselves as “Taliban-like” groups passing and executing judgment against innocent youths indulging in same gotra/caste marriages.

The bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai, however, felt the amicus curiae’s suggestion may be “impractical” considering the huge influence wielded by khaps in certain pockets of north India. “We are wondering how the order requiring arrest is to be implemented. At some areas it may cause law and order problems,” the bench observed and suggested to consider the Law Commission report recommending prohibitory orders.

The amicus report called for a set of preventive measures to be adopted by the state machinery and district police to ensure such khap meetings do not take place in the first place. Despite warning from the police “if the members of khap panchayat still plan to hold a gathering, which may cause reasonable apprehension of harm to the couple, the SP of the district would be duty bound to cause arrest of the members of the khap panchayat.”

At present, khap members could easily get away despite instigating deaths of young boys and girls who marry out of their own wish due to the vacuum existing in law. A PIL filed by NGO Shakti Vahini pointed out that killings of this nature are extra-judicial and khaps should be accountable for ordering such deaths not just in Haryana but in UP and Rajasthan as well.

The Law Commission in August 2012 came up with a report on the subject framing a draft law on Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly Bill which provided for prohibitory orders, violation of which would entail action under the Indian Penal Code. The bench adopted a middle path asking the amicus to consider this suggestion while posting the matter for hearing next on November 22.

NO LAW IN PLACE TO REIN IN KHAPS – SC TOLD

NO LAW IN PLACE TO REIN IN KHAPS - SC TOLD

DHANANJAY MAHAPATRA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Despite hundreds of couples marrying against social barriers being hounded out or killed at the behest of Khap Panchayats in northern India, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana have prepared no legal framework to counter the menace; the Supreme Court was informed on Monday. UP government in its affidavit admitted that “There was no specific legal framework to address the problem of honour killings but the Director General of Police and additional DGP have issued directions to ensure compliance with the provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”

Rajasthan was relying on two circulars – one issued in 2001 and another in 2006 – to check activities of caste panchayats. Haryana, on the other hand, said it had put in place an action plan to combat honour killings. This information was collated by amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran from the affidavits filed by the states in response to a PIL by NGO “Shakti Vahini” seeking the apex court’s intervention to protect couples, who were forced to annul their inter-caste marriages or killed for defiance. The Centre said it was actively planning to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make honour killing a specific offence.

Ramachandran’s report said there was a legislative vacuum in countering Khap Panchayats and honour killings dictated by them. “Therefore, it would be appropriate for the Supreme Court to give appropriate directions to prevent atrocities in the name of honour and tradition,” he said.

He suggested that the states must be directed to immediately identify areas, where Khaps are active and the police officers in charge of these areas must take every step possible to protect any inter-caste marriages, including protection to the threatened couple. The amicus said the police must act in advance and prevent Khap Panchayat meetings aimed at taking decisions against couples in the name of honour and if required arrest key members to foil the gatherings.

Haryana, which has seen several honour killings in the past, said its action plan mandated the police not to take action for alleged kidnapping of girl by a boy till the girl’s statement was recorded by a Magistrate. The action plan directs police to provide adequate security to couples and take strict action against those who harass, intimidate or harm couples in the name of honour, it said.

The Law Commission has already circulated a proposed legislation – Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliance) Bill, 2011 – and sought public response. It proposes upto one-year imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine for those who participate in Khap meetings convened to condemn any inter-caste marriage.

The Bill also proposed punishment of upto two years of imprisonment and Rs 20,000 fine if one was found taking steps to prevent such marriages; a three-year jail term and Rs 30,000 penalty for anyone resorting to criminal intimidation of such couples.

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com

Cops Must Curb Honour Killings: Advocates to SC

OUTLOOK

Two noted advocates, appointed by the Supreme Court to assist it in tackling the malady of “honour killings” of young couples by ‘khap’ panchayats, has recommended a proactive role for the police and district magistrates to curb it. The key recommendation forms part of the guidelines, formulated by senior counsel Raju Ramachandran and counsel Gaurav Agrawal, apopointed by the apex court as amicus curiae to help it, to tackle the recurring social evil, often rearing its ugly head in the northern states. The two counsel has urged a bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai to convert the guidelines into its directions to all states and Union territories until Parliament enacts a law on the issue. According to the guidelines, the police should play proactive role to thwart the khap (community) panchayat’s illegal diktat by providing timely help to the potential victims.

“Section 149 to 151 of the CrPC lay down the duties and powers of the police to prevent the commission of cognisable offences. The police has been empowered to arrest a person, even without a warrant, if the police officer knows of a design to commit any cognisable offence.

“In cases of Khap Panchayat, it is very necessary for the police to take timely steps so as to prevent any physical harm to the couple. Any gathering, which instigates commission of an illegal act, is an illegal gathering. It amounts to instigation to commit a crime, which may result in death of an individual.

“The State / police officials have to take preventive action / remedial action to ensure that the Fundamental Rights are protected, for which adequate powers are available in CrPC. The need is to effectively exercise those powers by the state officials,” it said.

The apex court had earlier appointed the amicus curiae while adjudicating a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, which highlighted the growing phenomenon of “honour killings” and other human rights violations by extra-constitutional bodies like as khap panchayats. The report by advocates said the state governments should be directed to immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages which have had instances of honour killing and/ or assembly of khap panchayat in the past one year.

“The officer-in-charge of the police stations of the areas so identified should be issued directions by the district’s superintendent of police (SP) to immediately report to him if there is any instance of inter-caste marriage which comes to the notice of the local police and / or if there is any attempt by the villagers/ community to hold a khap panchayat.

“It would be the duty of the SP, as also of the district magistrate, to ensure the safety of the couple by taking such steps as may be required including, but not limited to, providing a safe house, police protection etc.

“It would be open to the SP/DM to take help of non-governmental organisations as notified by the state government,” the report said.

It said the officer in-charge/ SP may be advised to meet the self-styled decision makers of khap panchayat and reason with them that such a meeting/gathering should not be held as it is an illegal gathering and that if any decision is proposed to be taken then the police would be bound to arrest the members of khap panchayat.

“If the members of khap panchayat still plan to hold a gathering, which may cause reasonable apprehension of harm to the couple, the SP would be duty-bound to cause arrest of the members of the khap panchayat. “The Central government and the state governments as well as the National Legal Services Authority may be directed to conduct awareness programmes about the legal rights of individuals with regard to matrimonial choices,” the report added.

Suspected honor killing in Bhiwani

TIMES OF INDIA

BHIWANI: In a suspected case of honour killing, a man reportedly shot dead his minor daughter in Rewari Khera village of Bhiwani district on Sunday night and cremated her body secretly. Police have registered a case of murder against him and started investigations. Accused Ratan Pal reportedly shot dead his 15-year-old daughter, Nisha, a student of class X, on Sunday night in their house. The family however said it was an accidental death as the girl pressed the trigger while holding it. The body was cremated hurriedly without informing police.

Sources said that a villager informed police about the incident after which Bhiwani SP B Satheesh Balan, along with forensic experts, visited the cremation ground and collected samples for investigation.The SP told TOI that a case under section 302 has been registered against the father, who is absconding. “We have started investigations into the incident. The motive behind the murder is unclear so far”, he said. Police sources however disclosed that the accused, who is an ex-serviceman and now employed with a foreign embassy in Delhi, had returned home on Sunday. “Some arguments seemed to have taken place between the girl and father after which the accused fired at her”, they added.Meanwhile, the SP has placed the incharge of Gurgani police post under suspension on charges of negligence in duty as he failed to act swiftly after the matter was reported to police by an anonymous caller.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Suspected-honor-killing-in-Bhiwani/articleshow/12078713.cms

Lover’s elope, panchayat gives tit for tat order

Lover’s elope, panchayat gives tit for tat order

Lover’s elope, panchayat gives tit for tat order

DECCAN HERALD
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow, February 11 2012, DHNS
Barely a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, a caste panchayat has pronounced an order that has made life difficult for the family of a youth, who eloped with his lover, in Uttar Pradesh’s Jyotiba Phule Nagar district. The girl’s family had refused to marry their daughter to him.

According to reports the youth and the girl, belonged to different castes and were having an affair for sometime, but their relationship was not approved by their families. Sources claim they had a secret marriage in court as well. On Wednesday last, the youth had approached the police with an application saying the girl’s family had held her ‘hostage’.The police, after taking statement of the girl, asked her family members to release her and allow her to live with her husband. The couple, however, eloped on Thursday triggering tension in the village and prompting the elders to convene a panchayat.  The panchayat, deliberated on the matter on Friday at Kaserwa village in the district, and allowed a day for the family of the youth to produce the girl. If they failed to do so the sister of the youth would be married off to a boy from the girl’s family. At the panchayat, the youth’s father was asked to produce the girl immediately but he expressed his helplessness and said he had no idea where they were. The panchayat dispersed after giving him one day to comply with the directive. The pradhan (village chief) Tahir Ali said the girl’s family must have helped them elope to create pressure on the youth’s parents. Police officials said they were investigating the matter and take stern action if the report was found to be true.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/226520/lovers-elope-panchayat-gives-tit.html

Panchayat orders gouging lovers’ eyes

Panchayat orders gouging lovers’ eyes

Panchayat orders gouging lovers’ eyes

DECCAN HERALD

Going a step further, the panchayat of Thakur-dominated Ghori Bachera village, not far from the national capital, has also formed a team to execute its orders. The couple, Javed and Shaista, have gone into hiding fearing for their lives. The panchayat has asked the maternal uncle of the girl Mehendi Hasan to produce the lovers before it. “The panchayat has been putting pressure on  me to bring the couple to the village and has asked me not to return until I implement their orders,” Hasan said.

Javed said the panchayat was angry over their marriage as it felt that it had brought a bad name for the entire village. “I have come to know that the panchayat has ordered that our eyes be gouged and we be shot dead,” a terrified Javed said.

Javed and Shaista were neighbours in Ghori Bachera village. They fell in love and eloped from their homes and got married in the court a few days ago. Surprisingly, members of the couple’s families, according to Javed, were not part of the panchayat’s decision. “They (families of the boy and girl) are neither in favour of the marriage nor against it,” he said. “We are scared and need security,” Shaista said. There is no reason for the panchayat, whose members do not belong to their community, to interfere in the matter.

Meanwhile, the police said they are looking for the couple and will  provide them with security. A case has also been registered against some of the members of the panchayat, they added. Recently, in the Jat-dominated western Uttar Pradesh, where honour killings for marrying against the wishes of the family are quite common, the all powerful “khaps” (caste panchayats) had announced that they will not allow love marriages nor a marriage within the same clan.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/59009/panchayat-orders-gouging-lovers-eyes.html