[Reader-list] Honour Killings In Haryana By Kavita Krishnan (countercurrents.org)

Venugopalan K M kmvenuannur at gmail.com
Tue Sep 15 08:17:54 IST 2009


Honour Killings In Haryana

By Kavita Krishnan

14 September, 2009

“Only whores choose their own partners.... Recently an educated couple
married against the samaj’s (community’s) wishes in Jhajjar. We hail
the panchayat’s decision to execute them...The government cannot
protect this atyachar (immoral behaviour).... (The law of the land) is
the root of all problems... That’s your Constitution, ours is
different.’’ – Mahendra Singh Tikait, farmers’ leader of Western UP

“Yahan izzatdar woh hain jo ladki ko marte hain (Those who kill their
girls are respected here)” – a teacher in rural Haryana

‘‘Khap leaders are keepers of Jat tradition” - Justice (retd) Devi
Singh Teotia, a former judge of the Punjab & Haryana HC, active member
of the Sarv Khap Panchayat, demanding legalising of the khaap

Mahendra Singh Tikait’s outrageous and offensive remarks once again
raise the question: why do the khaap panchayats of Haryana and Western
UP which open issue ‘death sentences’ for couples who defy their
caste-diktats on love and marriage, enjoy impunity?

In the context of such executions, Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender
Hooda (whom the Congress proudly counts among its contingent of ‘young
MPs’) had expressed sympathy for the “sentiments and local customs of
khaap panchayats.” Will the Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh tell us
why leaders of their party endorse such “sentiments” that mock the
constitution and openly call for lynching?

Tikait says women who choose their own partners are ‘whores’. The
‘dishonour’ of ‘whoring’, in his eyes, does not lie, it seems, in the
act of buying sexual services. After all, men in the same region
openly buy their wives (as reproductive machines) from other states,
because women are in short supply due to female foeticide. The
‘dishonour’ according to him lies primarily in women choosing their
own partners. This choice threatens the structures of property and
land, and with it, the very edifice of the feudal order.

Tikait’s words are all the more unfortunate coming from a
representative of the farmers’ movement. One caution, however. The
Times of India story that carried Tikait's statements, described the
farmers’ leader in stereotypical terms as “squatting on his
haunches...dhoti-clad...bare-chested...". The suggestion seems to be
that it is only in the “backward” rural, lower-class hinterland that
such views on women exist. The question is: isn't Ashok Todi
prosperous, ‘modern’ and upper class? What about US-educated Deepender
Hooda? And are not men who are dhoti-class, bare-chested and squat on
haunches capable of being progressive? The likes of Tikait may offer
the more juicy sound-bytes and makes an easier target for the
corporate media. We in the women’s movement, however, can’t lose sight
of the fact that educated and well off fathers and brothers are quite
as culpable in policing their daughters’ and sisters’ sexuality.
Murders in the name of 'honour' have land and property as a sub-text,
and they do not happen only in 'uncivilised' hinterlands but often
enough in elite sections of cities.

Home Minister P Chidambaram has rejected the need for a special law to
deal with the Haryana killings, saying they should be dealt with as

The killings and lynchings themselves may be murders. The question is:
is it legal to justify and call for such killings, as the khaap
panchayats do, as Tikait does? Does our existing law permit any
individual or institution to issue diktats on adults’ choice of
marriage partners, and declare ‘death sentences’ for those who defy
these caste-imposed diktats? If it is indeed illegal to issue such
diktats and death sentences, why does neither Home Ministry nor the
State Government of Haryana take any action against those who issue

Sati and dowry killings are also murders, but we have specific laws to
recognise them. Can murders which are openly justified – even by
leaders from Chidambaram’s own party, as well as their allies like
Tikait – in the name of social tradition be dealt with in the same way
as ordinary murders?

If the Central Government and State Governments refuse to invoke
existing laws to punish those who openly flout the Constitution and
call for such killings; if the existing laws do not even allow the
National Crime Records Bureau to document or assess the actual numbers
of such killings (since they’re all lumped together as murders), then
surely we need a specific law that
• declares it illegal for any group or individual, be they khaap
panchayats or Sangh outfits or parents like D P Yadav or Ashok Todi to
coerce adults in matters of marriage;
• spells out punishments for diktats and death sentences issued by
khaap panchayats, and also for Tikait-type justifications of such
• that spells out punishments for concerned police and administration
authorities who fail to protect couples and take preventive action
against those who issue death sentences
• that spells out punishments for parents who falsely accuse women of
being ‘minors’ so as to separate them from husbands and have them
locked up in Nari Niketans

Kavita Krishnan is the Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s
Association (AIPWA),
kavitakrish73 at gmail.com


You cannot build anything on the foundations of caste. You cannot
build up a nation, you cannot build up a morality. Anything that you
will build on the foundations of caste will crack and will never be a




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