Two years ago, 19-year-old Kausalya dropped out of college to marry her boyfriend Sankar. A few months later, Sankar was hacked to death in broad daylight by assailants sent by Kausalya's father. Her father wanted to kill the couple for bringing his caste into disrepute.
In India, women are not considered individuals with lives and choices of their own. Instead, they are seen as the torchbearers of family ‘honour’. They are curbed from talking to men, choosing their life partners etc.
What happens when one of them defies this unwritten rule? They are socially ostracized, beaten up or, like in Sankar’s case, killed. Here’s an attempt at tracing the trend of honour killings across India in 2018.
Couple killed in Tamil Nadu
25-year-old Nandhish from the Dalit community fell in love with Swathi, an upper caste woman. The couple got married and lived together for a few months before they were both murdered by the couple’s father. Swathi’s father has confessed to murdering them and throwing the bodies into a river in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district.
Man killed, wife commits suicide
Just a few days after the Krishnagiri couple's bodies were found, Harish, a 27-year-old cab owner from Bengaluru, was hacked to death for marrying his childhood sweetheart who belonged to an upper caste. Harish's body was found in the Cauvery river near Mandya. He was allegedly murdered by his wife's brother for marrying her despite repeated threats from the family. Depressed over her husband's death, Meenakshi committed suicide after a few days.
Man killed in Kerala's Kottayam
On May 24, Kevin Joseph, a converted Christian from Kottayam, married Neenu Chacko. The couple had jointly applied for marriage despite strong opposition from Neenu’s family. A few days later, Joseph’s body was found with torture marks at a dam near Kollam in what has now been ruled as an honour killing.
Kevin's murder is an example of how honour killings aren’t always about maintaining the alleged purity of a caste. Though the girl's parents were from different religions, they still opposed the marriage on the basis of social class.
At times, honour killings are also about making sure that one's child does not 'step out of line'.
Man hangs daughter to death in Vijayawada
20-year-old Indraja from upper caste was in love with a Dalit man, despite strong opposition from her father. After frequent quarrels over the issue, her father allegedly hanged his daughter to death and completed her final rites in the wee hours of the same night to keep things quiet.
Honour killing caught on CCTV
Amrutha, who belongs to a wealthy upper caste family, fell in love with Pranay from the Dalit community and the couple got married two years ago. In September 2018, while returning after a medical check-up, Pranay was hacked to death in broad daylight in front of his pregnant wife. The gruesome murder that shook south India was caught on CCTV. Amrutha’s father confessed to have plotted the murder as he did not approve of Pranay’s caste and lack of wealth.
Man in love with minor girl murdered
23-year-old Gaddi Kumar was in love with a minor girl from a different community. Both the parents had agreed to their marriage once the girl turned 18. But, a few days after that, Gaddi was found dead. The autopsy revealed that he had injuries and bruises, following which the police filed a murder case.
Gaddi’s mother claimed that the girl’s father was unhappy with the union and he was the one who murdered Gaddi. The girl’s father, on the other hand, had filed a case of sexual harassment against Gaddi.
With a recent survey suggesting that parents make false allegations of sexual harassment against their daughter's love interest, one can't help being sceptical about such allegations.
Minor killed allegedly by father
In Chandigarh, a 16-year-old girl was found dead in mysterious circumstances in October. Police have arrested six members of her family in what is suspected to be a case of honour killing. The girl was reportedly in love with a 19-year-old from her village. The girl's parents had earlier filed a rape case against him.