Honour Killing, Is it really Honourable?
I recently read a book named ‘Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story’ presented by the journalist ‘Chander Suta Dogra’ who reflects through her research that what Khap Panchayats do to the young couples who are in love. Here the spotlight is on the case of Manoj and Babli, a newly wedded couple in June 2007, who were killed in the name of honour. This killing was verdicted by Khap Panchayat in Karora Village in Kaithlal District, Haryana. Khap Panchayat is a council based on caste system among the Jats. Thereafter, many books and movies were freely launched on these heart-terrifying incidents.
Manoj and Babli were not in any relation but both belonged to a Banwala Gotra which is a fragment of Jat Community; henceforth they were considered as siblings. They fell in love with each other but it was a massive issue for the Khap Panchayat as per their religious and caste norms. Their marriage was not acceptable as it prohibited their society’s regulations.
Their love was innocent, so, they eloped. This lead to an ambience of rage in Babli’s family. Babli’s mother, Ompati, tried to convince the family that Babli was nowhere at fault and did commit any mistake but the men believed that intervention of Khap Panchayat was necessary. They claimed that Babli was kidnapped and was forcefully asked to marry Manoj. They demanded that this marriage should be declared void. The Khap Panchayat passed the order that they should be executed.
Babli had to give a statement in the court that she eloped with Manoj and had a consent in their marriage. But on the way, the police officers who had to escort them to the court left them and ran way. Their bus was then hijacked by Babli’s male members. They were ruthlessly beaten. Babli was impulsed by her brother to drink the poisonous pesticide and Manoj was killed through strangling him in a hitch.
The trial following this honour killing was long and hostile. The defence tried to convince that Manoj and Babli are still alive even there was a full-proof evidence against this statement. After 33 months, 50 hearings and 41 witnesses, the murder of the couple done by the family male members were sentenced to death. The six police escorts were also accused for their utmost negligence. It was for the first time in the history of Haryana that such a judgement was passed for the crime of honour killing. Only two males were sentenced to life imprisonment and they were Ganga Raj, the head of Khap Panchayat and Babli’s grandfather. The judge Vani Gopal Sharma who dealt with the case and gave her judgement was successively and supposedly given threats about her decision.
Chanderpati, mother of Manoj still asks for Ganga Raj to be sentenced to death. The strong yet bewailing mother stands up for his son and daughter in law and states, “Our fight has not yet ended here.”
She further added, “The verdict has done justice to my son’s death, but it has not changed the way the village works. I am fighting but my son died only because of the girl’s male members could kill their own daughter. Families allow themselves to be instigated. As long as men can kill their own daughters, what change there will be?”
This is a book which clearly explicates that where our country stands in terminology of orthodoxy and what dilemmas it faces. The society is unable to meet up with the pace of developments and advances the nation overall had made. I am completely impressed the way this writer has bravely penned this story and has tried to spread this type of crime in our nation. It’s also the patriarchy that overrules our Indian society which has landed our nation to a swamp.
The former Finance Minister said once in Rajya Sabha, “The vilest crimes are committed in the name of honour of the family or women and we should hang our heads in shame when such incidents take place in India in 21st Century.”
This is a brutal reality of our nation which still resides dominantly. Young innocent couples are assassinated and assaulted in the name of honour. There is an ocean of stories which are the replica of that of Manoj and Babli which goes unreported due to the pressure of family or the society. This book was really insightful which reflected the authenticity of our society’s colours.