Rising cases of ‘honour killings’ in India

More than 300 cases reported in the last three years


September 26, 2018

/ By / New Delhi

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While India takes immense pride in eliminating Section 377, it still has a long way in doing away with its many other social taboos. Two innocent adults in the country were recently killed by their family members over the issue of an inter-caste marriage, in the name of their ‘honour’.

Setting aside the differences in their caste, class and religion, two lovers decided to live together, defying all odds. But this heart-warming story turned into a macabre in no time as one of them met a grisly end at the hands of their lovers’ family.

Manoj Sharma, a government official in Uttar Pradesh, was found murdered in a forest at Kutba village in Muzaffarnagar district, last week. He was reportedly killed by his wife Sonia’s family for marrying her. In another case, Ankit Saxena, a young photographer living in New Delhi, was stabbed to death in the middle of a busy street by the father and maternal uncle of a Muslim girl, Shehzadi. His offence was that he loved the girl and wanted to marry her.

India has a long history of ‘honour’ killings, where couples are murdered for falling in love outside their communities. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), between 2014 and 2015 alone, the number of honour killings in India leapt by 798 pc. States such as Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are leading in such extra-judicial killings.

Honour killings are especially often seen in regions like Haryana, where infamous khap panchayats are said to rule. The same problem lurks in small towns of Miryalaguda, cities like Kottayam, and even in metropolises like Hyderabad. A 24-year old Peramalla Pranay Kumar in Miryalaguda division of Nalgonda district in Telangana state, was brutally murdered because he had dared to marry Amrutha Varshini – an upper caste girl and they were expecting a child. Varshini’s father, a rich real-estate developer, was so enraged that he allegedly hired a contract killer for INR 10 million to put his unwanted son-in-law to death and redeem his ‘honour’.

These cases are not the monopoly of any particular religion but people from all major religions in India — Hindus, Muslims, Christians—seem equally inclined to kill their daughters or sons-in-law over marrying outside their communities. These killings are completely influenced by the age old concepts of superiority and inferiority by birth, gender, age or occupation that has been ruling over the minds of certain section of people in the society.

However, there exist no separate laws in the country to punish those found guilty in these cases of murders, and prosecutions are usually among various sections of Indian Penal Code for homicide and culpable homicide, not amounting to murder.

After the rise in such incidents, some Dalit organisations and intellectuals like Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd have argued that the term ‘honour killings’ itself is a misnomer and should be replaced by ‘caste-hatred killings’, because according to them, that is what it actually is.

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