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Honor killing in India

Youngsters in certain parts of India today cannot choose their partners.If they still do and the choice violates the norms set down by the caste panchayats, the consequences can be death.This kind of killings should be seen in a wider context.

There are many gruesome murders in the name of honor in the recent months. Most victims of honor killings reported from various parts of the country are young people who choose to love or marry outside their caste, sub-caste or religion. Many caste groups, communities and families in several parts of the country still seem violently opposed to the right of young adults to choose a life partner. Marriage is turning out to be lethal for these young couples. The agitated family members stooped to that extent where they are ready to kill their child for falling in love across boundaries of caste or religion.

Even the government and the police force failed to confront this issue. In the name of preserving social order and saving the honor of their community, caste or family, they justify all their heinous acts. And these people are even backed by the number of political leaders, civil servants, police officers, lawyers and even judges. Last year in Haryana and other places in and around Haryana, the number of heinous killings escalated to an unprecedented level. The state remained a mute spectator to these unruly acts. The role played by the media was laudable which raised their voice by setting a stage for a national debate on this issue. But that wasn't enough to address the gross violations of these communities.

The perpetrators are not only left scot-free but also urged for certain amendments with their proposed demands. Some of the caste panchayats like Khap Mahapanchayat demanded the amendment of Hindu marriage act and even specified to implement the prohibition of marriages within same village and contiguous villages.They even demanded for the de-recognition of the temple weddings for the eloped couples.

When we look at these incidents, we find that these issues are plaguing the communities in rural India, especially in the villages of Haryana, UP and Rajasthan. Absence of proper rural governance is also a reason. Those who are responsible for these killings should have exemplary punishments for their offense. The rural people (including women) should be empowered on various societal issues like marriage system,health and education.Certain predefined customs like Fatwa system, pardahs system should be banned. Proper security to the individuals must be ensured.

The need of the hour is to not only protect the runaway couple but also to put an end to these vulnerable acts. The government should make an effort in educating people and formulating the rural policies thereby strengthening the rural governance.The police should pull out all the stops to find the assailants and punish them. The media should also lend a hand in creating local awareness about the horror of honour crimes. It should also demand changes in the law.

Haritha Reddy