#India – Supreme Court says Khap diktats retrograde, illegal #vaw #moralpolicing


By , TNN | Jan 15, 2013, 01.20 AM IST

 
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it was an offence to order women not to use mobile phones or to dress in a particular manner and warned that no one can run a parallel matrimony court to issue diktats against the law to harass young couples.

“Imposing a dress code on women and asking them not to use mobile phones, are such orders not socially retrograde? But these are also against the law. How can anyone ask women not to carry a mobile phone,” a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai asked while hearing a PIL which sought protection of young couples marrying inter-caste or within the same gotra from the wrath of khaps.

The bench said this after taking note of the presence of many elders, sporting colourful turbans and belonging to different khaps of UP and Haryana, in the court’s visitors’ gallery. A large number of khap members were also present in the court room in response to the bench’s desire to hear their views on socially retrograde diktats and honour killings.

But the Sarv Khap Panchayat, a conglomerate of 67 khaps in Haryana’s Rohtak district, nonchalantly told the court that it was the family members who lynched girls and boys who marry outside their caste or within the same gotra, unable to resist social pressure and taunts of relatives. Regulating the khaps would not reduce honour killings, it said.

“Such incidents happen only in the peace loving and law abiding people of the village and normally not in mischievous families,” the panchayat said in its written submissions to the court.

The bench questioned the inspector general of police (Meerut zone), additional director general (law and order) of Haryana along with superintendents of police of Rohtak and Jind districts on khap-dictated honour killings. All the police officers said khaps sometimes adopt socially retrograde resolutions but there had been no instance of their members being involved in honour killings.

The cops said it was the family members who indulged in killings of youth who defy caste and gotra barriers. Amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran explained, “Once the khaps issue an order of censure on matrimonial alliance, the family of the involved boys and girls face the prospect of being socially ostracized. To overcome this, they resort to killing of the couple who defied the khap-imposed social barriers.”

The bench wondered why the police of UP and Haryana were “so anxious to give a good conduct certificate” to the khaps but additional advocates general of both states – Gaurav Bhatia and Manjit Singh – sought time to file a proper affidavit on behalf of the police. But counsel for the khaps said in unison, “What the police officers are saying is correct.”

When additional solicitor general Indira Jaising said “the Sarv Khap Panchayat of district Rohatak has admitted that it adjudicates all matters relating to marriage and family”, the bench said, “That means they are running parallel courts.”

The court came to the rescue of Jaising, who was being shouted down by the counsel for khaps seeking time to file their response to the PIL by NGO Shakti Vahini. The NGO’s counsel Ravi Kant said, “Though khaps are directly not responsible for the honour killings, their orders vitiate the atmosphere. There are many instances where the girl’s family had been excommunicated or the girl’s head had been tonsured.”

Jaising said, “There has been a failure on the part of the police to provide security to couples marrying against social norms fixed by khaps.” The bench asked the khaps to file their written submissions not exceeding 10 pages by February 18 and posted the matter for detailed hearing on March 5.

 

Punjab Girl killed, parents held for #Honourkilling #Vaw



Hoshiarpur, December 8. The Tribune 


The district police today claimed to have solved the murder case of 25-year-old Manpreet Kaur of Subhanpur village whose body was found near Bhagora crossing on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road near Mahilpur on Thursday.

The police alleged it was a case of honour killing where the parents got their daughter killed to save their family from “disrepute”.

Dr Sukhchain Singh Gill, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Hoshiarpur, said the police had arrested Manpreet’s father Kapur Singh, mother Balwinder Kaur, Satnam Singh Sona of Parsota and Jaswinderpal of Meetpur and seized Rs 1.50 lakh, a wedge used in the crime, a Maruti Zen car and the deceased’s mobile phone. Another accused Gurinder Singh of Mona Kalan is absconding.

Kapur Singh had earlier told the police that his daughter left the house at 6 pm on December 5 to attend the engagement party of her friend’s sister. Manpreet had Rs 4000, one gold chain and a gold ring at that time. He said he suspected that some robbers might have killed his daughter.

The SSP said investigations revealed that Manpreet wanted to marry Sandeep Kumar, son of Rattan Lal of Motian, PS Chabbewal, who belonged to the Scheduled Caste community, but her parents were against it.

Gill said: “On December 5, her parents called Satnam Singh and his driver Gurinder Singh to their house. They told Manpreet to snap ties with the boy, but she kept insisting on marrying Sandeep. Enraged over this, Satnam allegedly hit a wedge on her head and killed her on the spot. Later, they called Jaswinderpal to help them in disposing of the body.

“Jaswinderpal took Rs 1.50 lakh and agreed to report the matter to the police as an accident case. Later, Satnam took the body in his car to a tubewell where he changed the blood stained clothes. He then took her to Bhagora village and his driver Gurinder Singh followed him on Manpreet’s Activa scooter which they dumped along with the body”.

All the accused have confessed to their involvement in the crime, the SSP added.

Shameful act

Manpreet Kaur (25) of Subhanpur village was found dead near Mahilpur on Thursday

Her father had told the police that he suspected robbery as motive behind her murder

Police investigation revealed Manpreet wanted to marry Sandeep Kumar, who belonged to the SC community

 

Coventry honour killing victim Surjit Athwal remembered #Vaw


Surjit Kaur Athwal

THE ‘honour killing‘ of a Coventry mum has been remembered at a memorial service at the House of Commons.

The 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal was marked at the event hosted by MP Stephen Timms – which called for a public inquiry into the issue of so-called honour killings and ‘outsourced’ killings affecting British citizens.

Mum-of-two Surjit disappeared after going with her mother-in-law, Bachan Athwal, to a family wedding in India in December 1998.

Her body was never found, but her mother-in-law apparently boasted to relatives she had arranged for her to be strangled and dumped in a river – after Surjit had an affair with a colleague and said she wanted a divorce.

For years, Surjit’s death was concealed by her husband, Sukhdave Athwal, and her mother-in-law, but the pair were finally convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2007 after a tireless campaign by Surjit’s Coventry family for justice.

It was a landmark case, the first in UK legal history, of an outsourced honour killing being criminally prosecuted in the UK against people who plot a murder, while the actual killing is carried out abroad.

The people who actually carried out the murder have never been caught.

Surjit’s brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, from Coventry, still campaigns for police and politicians to do more about honour killings in the Asian community.

At Wednesday’s event, he called for the British Government to press the Indian Government to bring Surjit’s outstanding murderers in Panjab to justice, and has requested a follow-up meeting with the Foreign Secretary.

He said: “Just as we have benefited from major public enquiries following Stephen Lawrence‘s racist murder, we need to have a comprehensive public enquiry which brings out the multiple and vital lessons thrown up by outsourced honour killing cases like Surjit’s and others.

“These are publicly important issues for government action, police action and community action. Victims continue to suffer because of a lack of coherence, communication and co-ordination on these devastating cases.

“In states like India and Pakistan, there is horrifying police collusion in these vicious acts of murder.

“For example, 100 females are murdered across the Indian state on a daily basis.”

The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from women’s campaign groups, the Metropolitan Police, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, and was organised by Surjit’s daughter Pavanpreet Ahmed.

Speakers included DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation on Surjit’s case

Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2012/12/07/coventry-honour-killing-victim-surjit-athwal-remembered-92746-32378155/#ixzz2ERMNrdnb

 

Honour killings: Law panel says no to death penalty #Vaw


Nov 27, 2012

  

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the latest case of alleged honour killing, the Law Commission has recommended making it a non-bailable offence but disagreed with Supreme Court’s suggestion that death sentence be applied to all such cases.

The Commission had also asked the government to explore the possibility of a new law to prohibit unlawful caste assemblies (like Khaps) which take decisions to condemn marriages not prohibited by law.

The Centre today said it was seriously considering a Constitution amendment to deal with honour killings, as it sought a report from the UP government on the murder of a man featured in Aamir Khan’s show on the problem.

The Centre, which had constituted a Group of Ministers on honour crimes, had earlier proposed making honour killings a separate offence under the IPC to bring clarity to law enforcement agencies.

“No person or any group shall assemble to condemn any marriage not prohibited by law, on the basis that it dishonoured the caste or community,” the report stated.

Representational Image. Reuters

“These offending acts which imperil the liberty of young persons marrying or intending to marry according to their wishes are being perpetrated in certain parts of the country and need to be effectively checked,” Commission chief Justice P V Reddi wrote to the Law Ministry before he demitted office recently.

The Cabinet has recently approved the setting up of a new Law Commission for a three-year period but its chairman and members have not yet been appointed.

Sources in the Law Ministry said, the August, 2012 report has been forwarded to the Home Ministry for further action.

The wife of 29-year-old Abdul Hakim, who was shot dead on Thursday last, yesterday alleged that her family members were behind the death of her husband.

According to the Hakim’s wife Mahvish, the victim was shot dead by her family members on November 22 after he had just entered a Bulandshahr village in Uttar Pradesh along with her and their two-year-old daughter.

Another proposal was to amend the Indian Evidence Act to put the burden of proof on the accused, which means khap panchayats and family members who perpetrated killings would have to prove their innocence.

The Commission, however, has rejected the government’s suggestion of defining honour killing as a specific offence in the Indian Penal Code (Section 300), stating that the existing provisions were sufficient.

It has also turned down the government’s view that onus of proving innocence in honour killings cases must be shifted on the accused.

The new law proposed by the Commission has defined three separate offences, with a maximum jail term of seven years for those found guilty of criminally intimidating married couples.

It has disagreed with the Supreme Court’s suggestion that death sentence be applied to all honour killing cases. “With great respect, we are constrained to say that such a blanket direction given by the Supreme Court making death sentence a rule in ‘honour killings’ cases, makes a departure from the principles firmly entrenched in our criminal jurisprudence by virtue of a series of decisions rendered by larger Benches of Supreme Court,” the Commission said.

It said that it is settled law that aggravating and mitigating circumstances should be weighed and it is only in very exceptional and rare cases, death sentence should be imposed.

Death sentence, in other words, is a last resort. Further, where there is more than one accused, the degree of participation and culpability may vary,” it added.

PTI

 

Death penalty for family members in India ‘honour killing’


 

The house where Asha and Yogesh were killedThe young couple was beaten, tortured and electrocuted in Asha’s uncle’s home in Delhi
OCT 5, 2012, New Delhi

Five members of a family in the Indian capital, Delhi, have been sentenced to death for the brutal murder of a young couple in 2010.

Yogesh and Asha were tortured and electrocuted in a so-called honour killing by members of Asha’s family who objected to the union on caste grounds.

Asha’s parents, her uncle, aunt and a cousin were arrested the day after the crime. They were convicted on Monday.

Last year the Supreme Court said honour killings should get the death penalty.

There are no statistics on the number of honour killings across the country, but according to one recent study, hundreds of people are killed each year for falling in love or marrying against their families’ wishes.

Most parents in India still prefer arranged marriages within their own caste and relationships outside of caste are frowned upon.

The couple, who were neighbours in the Gokulpuri area of north-east Delhi, were taken by Asha’s parents to her uncle’s house in the Swaroop Nagar area of the city where the torture and killings took place.

Asha’s family was opposed to the couple’s plans to get married because Yogesh belonged to a lower caste. All five accused were convicted on Monday for “murder and voluntarily causing hurt”.

“It can be safely concluded that the prosecution has been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons had caused the death of the victims with the common intention after giving them merciless beatings by tying them with rope and thereafter electrocuting them on various parts of their body,” Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar said on Monday.

 

In the name of honour: Book explores nature of honour crimes and domestic violence


KARACHI:
The first step in fighting honour crimes is to accept their existence in the society and understand the nature of the crime.

“We need to accept that such crimes exist and that they are more prevalent in certain cultures than others,” said Manisha Gupte, one of the co-editors of the book “Honour and Women’s Rights: South Asian Perspectives” at its launch at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

“Honour exists in every society but we need to struggle against the structures of dominance, such as caste and sex, which instigate honour killings.”

The book has been co-edited by Gupte, Ramesh Awasthi and Shraddha Chickerur. It comprises 15 papers by authors from South Asian countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, who are either settled in their respective countries or living abroad.

“The most prevalent form of violence against women among South Asian people is domestic violence and the fear of extended families,” said Gupte, who is also the founder of MASUM, an organisation working for the rural women in India since 1987. “Domestic violence and honour killings are interlinked.”

From Pakistan, Akmal Wasim, Faiza Haswary, Nazish Brohi, Afiya Zia and Saima Husain contributed their papers to the book, which was completed over a period of three years.

Discussing the different forms of honour crimes, Gupte said domestic violence also takes place in western cultures.

She clarified that the book has no answers but only offers insight into such crimes.

The National Commission on the Status of Women chairperson, Anis Haroon, said that illiteracy and extremism are the main obstacles which are stalling women’s development in the region.

One of the authors, Afiya Zia, who co-authored a paper with researcher Nazish Brohi on “Agentive defiance to honour codes in Pakistan”, called for focus on the empirical studies conducted by organisations. She crticised them as being flawed, saying that they are entirely based on media reports. “These crimes are not limited to only villages but exist in urban cities as well.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.

Nearly 1,000 Pakistan women “killed for honour” in 2011


At least 943 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honor, the country’s leading human rights group said Thursday.

The statistics highlight the growing scale of violence suffered by many women in conservative Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens and there is no law against domestic violence.

Despite progress on better protecting women’s rights, activists say the government needs to do more to prosecute murderers in cases largely dismissed by police as private, family affairs.

“At least 943 women were killed in the name of honor, of which 93 were minors,” wrote the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report.

The Commission reported 791 “honor killings” in 2010.

Around 595 of the women killed in 2011 were accused of having “illicit relations” and 219 of marrying without permission.

Some victims were raped or gang raped before being killed, the Commission said. Most of the women were killed by their brothers and husbands.

Only 20 of 943 killed were reported to have been provided medical aid before they died, the Commission wrote.

Despite the rising number of reported killings, activists have praised parliament for passing laws aimed at strengthening women’s protection against abuses.

Rights groups say the government should do more to ensure that women subjected to violence, harassment and discrimination have effective access to justice.

(AFP)

Small Towns, Big Hearts- Love in Khapland


From social boycotts to betrayals, love can conquer all in the hinterland. TOI-Crest brings you some endearing and enduring tales.

LOVE IN KHAP-LAND
SUKHBIR SIWACH, TNN

It was on the campus of Janta College in Charki Dadri, Bhiwani that Anita Juthera and Shribhagwan Legha met and fell in love. After two years of courtship, Legha was keen to tie the knot. “I love you, marry me, ” he pleaded with her.

Anita, more clued into the complications of gotra taboos among Jats, was hesitant. Both belonged to the Phogat gotra. She came from Makdani and he, Samaspur and they were tied by the rules of gotra fraternity which rules out marriage between Jats of the two villages.

“It’s not possible. The khap will oppose our marriage, ” she told him. But Shribhagwan’s persistence wore her down. “Times have changed. These things don’t matter in a modern society, ” the Jat boy had argued naively.

But Anita’s worst fears came true when the couple declared their love. Legha’s family was harassed by furious villagers egged on by a diktat issued by the Samaspur khap. Their crops were destroyed, their tubewell was damaged, and their home was pelted with stones. The police remained deployed around the Legha home for 10 months to ensure that Shribhagwan’s parents were not harmed.

In the meanwhile, Shribhagwan was recruited as a constable in the Rajasthan Police and Anita got admission to a management course in a Jaipur college. Six years after they befriended each other, the couple got married in Jaipur without telling their families. But word spread and all hell broke lose again.

Shribhagwan ducked calls from his father, Randhir Singh. And Anita was on the run from her panchayat. The couple managed to stay safe but their families bore the brunt of khap rage.

“I was told to get the marriage annulled or leave the village and abandon 40 bighas of our land for the panchayat to dispose of as it pleased, ” says Singh, 62. The Phogat khap announced a social boycott. And so vicious was the khap that Singh’s nephew Raj was fined Rs 5, 200 for daring to talk to his uncle.

The situation took a violent turn on March 4, 2010, the “deadline” for the family to leave the village. Their home was stoned and Randhir Singh and his wife Prem Devi had to lock themselves up in their rooms to escape the mobs. The police team assigned to their protection had to ask for additional forces to tackle the situation.

Three days later, the khap had reasons to rejoice – former Haryana chief minister, Hukum Singh, not only presided over its meeting but also expressed solidarity with the Phogat khap’s efforts to implement its diktat against the couple. The panchayat, attended by 1, 000 villagers, demanded that the girl and the boy be “restored” to their families within a week and divorce proceedings initiated.

Randhir Singh as well as Anita’s father, Azad Singh, a retired army captain, pleaded that they could not carry out the diktat because the couple would not listen to them. A few days later, Hukum Singh distanced himself from the panchayat and the khap relented on its stand that Shribhagwan’s family had to leave the village.

“Many villagers still don’t talk to me, ” says Randhir Singh. The village ex-sarpanch, Surender Singh Phogat, claims that no one is prevented from speaking to the family but “formally, we have not lifted the social boycott as yet”.

Anita, 24, and Shribhagwan, 25, have been married for two years now. But they are still in hiding and their families have no address for them. “Our parents have suffered a lot because of us. We will return to the village but only after we secure good jobs that will prove that our love marriage has been a success, ” says Shribhagwan. The two have cleared the written and physical exams for the recruitment of subinspectors in Rajasthan Police and are busy readying for the interview round.

The entire village watched silently


The place inside the house of Govindaraju where Suvarna (inset) was forced to hang herself to death by her own father.

The place inside the house of Govindaraju where Suvarna (inset) was forced to hang herself to death by her own father.

January 14, 2012 By Praveen Kumar

No one came to Suvarna’s rescue. We were the only three women who saw the entire honour killing. “There were around 10 men, including her father beating her and finally hanging her to death. The entire village watched silently,” recalled 70-year-old Tholasamma, Govindaraju’s mother and his sister-in-law Thayamma.

Tholasamma and her two daughters-in-law, Thayamma and Mangala Gowri, are the main eye witnesses to the honour killing.

“Suvarna kept requesting her father and others to spare her and allow her to go away from the village with Govindaraju. But they only told her she deserved to be killed as she had brought dishonour to their caste by falling in love with a lower caste youth,” said Tholasamma and Thayamma. The three women ran out of the house with the children fearing that they too would be killed. “

Till date, we do not know where our father-in-law is. Mangala Gowri is taking shelter elsewhere and we have no news about her.My two small children, including a two-year-old, are staying at different places. It has been several days since I have seen them,” added Thayamma, recalling that she had advised Govindaraju to forget Suvarna because of their caste differences.

“He had even left the village two months before the incident. But the girl was not ready to live withou him although she was engaged to someone else. More than the relationship between the two, what mattered to Suvarna’s father was their caste,” she said disdainfully. Her own life has clearly turned upside down since the incident.

I have never seen anyone being killed this way

“I will never ever return to my village where Suvarna was killed in the most barbaric way by her father and others,” said 27-year-old Govindaraju, also called Gundda , pouring his heart out to Deccan Chronicle on Thursday.

The location of the meeting will be kept a secret on his request as he believes his life too is under threat from Suvarna’s father and family.

Govindaraju belongs to the Madiga caste, considered the most oppressed and exploited. Suvarna, who did not care that he belonged to a lower caste while she herself was a Vokkaliga, was in love with him for five years. Although this did not go down well with her family, the couple never dreamed their love affair would meet such a gruesome end.

“Even in the most violent of films I have never come across any person being killed the way Suvarna was. She was dragged by her legs on the concrete road and beaten with wooden logs. She was brought to my house and asked to commit suicide by hanging. When she did not, she was killed by hanging. How can any father kill his daughter this way? I want these people to be punished for Suvarna’s soul to rest in peace. Like all other lovers, we were in love. I agree that we belonged to different castes. But what has her father gained by killing his daughter,” he lamented.

“Had the police acted fast on November 6, when Suvarna was being murdered, she would be alive today. My brother, K Thimappa, had rushed to the Koppa police station and informed the police about the tension in our village while Suvarna and I were being beaten. If the police had reacted fast, she would not have been killed,” he maintained.

Although he managed to escape through the sugarcane fields behind his house, he found it difficult to run as he was badly beaten.

“I had to drag on till I found a lorry transporting sugarcane. I reached the main road with the help of the driver and from there I came to my relative’s house on the outskirts of Bengaluru. If I had not escaped, I too would have been killed the same day,” he shuddered, unwilling to emerge from hiding as he is certain that will be as good as signing his own death warrant.