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India: Apex court upset at increasing cases of “honor killings”

From R.Vasudevan – Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 22 June (Asiantribune.com):

Shocked by growing cult of “honour killings” being reported across the country, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and some states on the issue.

A bench of Justices R. M. Lodha and A. K. Patnaik sought response from the respective governments on the petition filed by NGO ‘Shakti Vahini’ expressing grave concern over the recent spurt of such killings carried out at the instance of khap panchayats ( Kangaroo courts) in villages in the North.

The NGO complained that though there was a spurt in such killings in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana, neither the Centre nor the state governments were taking steps to curb the menace due to “vote-bank politics.”

The khap panchayats function beyond the control of police, and their verdicts on marriages outside castes or same ‘gotras’ are rarely defied. In many recent cases, runaway couples have been brought back and murdered without a murmur of protest among the families. Fathers, uncles or even brothers take out their anger on boys or girls who dare to defy the established rules and traditions.

Haunted by the panchayat leaders who act like the Taliban, there have been instances of couples committing suicides on rail tracks, swallowing poison or hanging themselves in a death pact. Shockingly, the relatives involved in the murders have no remorse and even feel proud over protecting the “honour” of the family.

For instance, in a latest case, the father and uncle of a 19-year-old girl, who was allegedly tortured and electrocuted to death along with her boyfriend in the capital have been arrested. Suresh Kumar Saini and Om Prakash, father and uncle respectively of the victim Asha Saini, were arrested for allegedly committing the gruesome murder, police said.

Asha and Yogesh Kumar had been found murdered at her uncle’s residence on on Monday morning and the girl’s uncle Prakash and other members of her family were untraceable after the incident. “Saini and Prakash have confessed to the crime,” police claimed. Asha allegedly had an affair with Yogesh and wanted to marry him but her family was vehemently against the match as the boy belonged to a different caste.

“Honour killings,” which have been ratified by some ‘khap panchayats’, is a social problem and such issues could be resolved amicably, Minister of State for Women and Child Development (Independent charge) Krishna Tirath has said seeing nothing evil in such primitive practices.

Talking to reporters, Ms. Tirath said some decisions of the ‘khap panchayats’ violated the law of the land. “There is no law that bars two adults from the same ‘gotra’ marrying each other, but society sometimes do not accept this. We have to sit together to resolve the issue”.

The Delhi High Court had on Friday made a man withdraw a petition seeking a direction to the Union Government to carry out amendments in the Hindu Marriage Act banning marriages within the same gotra.

– Asian Tribune –

http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/06/22/india-apex-court-upset-increasing-cases-honor-killings

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