Junagadh couple allegedly killed in caste-based murder amid national lockdown

The police said that the woman’s family members were being seen as suspects

JunagadhImage Courtesy:indianexpress.com

Even as the lockdown is in place throughout the country, a young couple in their twenties was reportedly brutally hacked to death on the Vanthli-Keshod highway in Junagadh district on Wednesday evening in a case of caste-based murder, The Times of India reported.

Four months ago, Sanjay Ramsingh Ram and Dhara, both of them residents of Darsali village of Mangrol Taluka, had gotten married against the wishes of their families were allegedly murdered by hired assailants by the woman’s family.  

The incident took place on Wednesday evening when the couple had gone to the town of Keshod to renew Sanjay’s driving license. Sanjay’s sister had accompanied the couple too. While they were returning to Rajkot, where they lived after marriage, they were attacked by an assailant who came from behind on another bike and hit Sanjay with an axe. After the assailant brutally attacked Sanjay, he turned to attack his wife, Dhara. The couple died at the spot due to the loss of blood.

While Sanjay’s sister escaped with minor bruises but before she could call for help or make sense of what had transpired, the assailant had taken off on the bike. She was said to be helping the police with anything she remembered about the incident. Speaking with TOI, the Junagadh Superintendent of Police, Saurabh Singh, said, “We strongly suspect it to be a case of honour killing as the couple had an inter-caste marriage, which led to bitter animosity brewing among the woman’s family members. We suspect them of having executed this killing. We have some clues and are following them.”

Last month, in another suspected case of caste-based killing, a man was allegedly murdered by his wife’s father in Tamil Nadu. The marriage had taken place six months before the lockdown and while both, the man and woman belonged to the Most Backward Caste (MBC), the man belonged to the Oddar caste that was lowest among the group, Feminism in India had reported.

The woman’s family then got the marriage nullified with the help of the local panchayat and the boy’s family sent him away to the city to work for a living. However, when he returned to the village during the lockdown, the woman’s father, along with a relative, attacked him and killed him. The woman’s father and relative later surrendered themselves to the police.

Data and laws on caste-based killings

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2017 crime in India report which was published after the delay of a year, left out data on such killings citing data on it being “vague” and “unreliable”. However, data showed that such killings grew by 796 percent from 2014 to 2015, with 28 murders being reported in 2014 to 251 in 2015. 21 out these cases in 2015 were reported from Gujarat.

Currently, there is no separate law to punish the perpetrators of such murders. However, according to a research study, ‘Study on Honor Killing as a Crime in India – Cause and Solutions’ by Seied Beniamin Hosseini and C Basavaraju, honor killings are cases of homicide and murder which are grave crimes under the IPC Sections 299, 300 and 301. They also violate Articles 14, 15 (1) and (3), 17, 18, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Under international provisions, India has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW 1979), which ensure that informal decision making bodies functioning on customary laws, like Khap Panchayats are refrained from enforcing their diktats on the rights of individuals.

Last year, the Rajasthan Assembly had passed the Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019 against ‘honour killing’ with punishment ranging from life imprisonment and death penalty.

However, most of all caste-based killings which are extra-judicial punishments carried out by family members in most cases, cannot be eradicated through law alone. For this, individuals need to be sensitized against the crime, apart from public education on the issue. The researchers also state that discriminatory provisions relating to justifications, excuses or defenses on grounds of honour or passion must be removed in India, apart from authorities working with victims to ensure the safety of their physical and mental health.


COVID-19 and the Indian Supreme Court
Don’t let people instigate law and order issues: SC on communalisation of Covid-19



Related Articles