Thursday, September 17, 2009

for the sake of 'honour'

Every year 5000 females are killed in so-called ‘honour killing’

Honour killing is one of the many norms of some communities where one has to pay one’s life on violating the rules of the society. In India and some other countries, females in a family are considered the honour of the family. When such women go against the family wishes specially when they marry or eloped with their partners belonging to different caste or community ; the members of the family or the society ’ kill’ them for the sake of defending their honour.
In India alone, hundreds of women if not thousands are killed in the name of honour. 13 females per day are killed for the sake of honour worldwide, according to a UN report. However, the reports of the killings go off the record and the culprits or the perpetrators leave unpunished. Honour killings are not always committed by the kins of a family, the announcement of the brutal punishment is done by a Khap Panchayat (Prominent in western UP and Haryana) or a Caste Panchayat, a court which protects traditional norms of a particular caste in a village. Even if a household agrees to the will of their children, this panchayat does not go with the decision of the family; instead such families are asked to leave the village.
Ravinder Singh Gehlout’s family is the recent target of Khap Panchayat at Dharana village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district in which the family has been asked to leave the village as Ravinder has married a girl called Shilpa who is of his gotra. Same gotra means sibling like relationship so according to the khap, the marriage in the same category is equivalent to incest. This is one such instance in Haryana where family is being asked to vacate their house. However, in some cases like Ved Pal Maul’s case, on July 22, the man has been murdered brutally by the members of the panchayat at Singhwal, in Jind district when he came to take his wife back whom he had married to against the consent of the girl’s parents. Also, there is no trace of the well-being of the girl. In this case, there was no issue of different caste or same gotra, it was just that they opted for ‘love marriage’.
There are innumerable cases like Ved Pal’s or Ravinder Gehlout’s. If, in 2007, the murder of Manoj and Babli shocked the region, in 2004, a pregnant woman, Sonia, and her husband, Rampal, of Asanda village in Jhajjar grab the attention of the masses when they were almost forced to declare each other brother and sister. Last year, in Bhiwani, two girls were burnt alive just because they went to greet some male friends on Diwali.
Despite of knowing the consequence of such acts, there are some girls in Haryana who get married secretly in courts and never confront to their parents as they know they will be killed the very moment they open their mouth. According to a local girl, she secretly got married to her lover of different caste a year back but she is continuing to stay in her paternal house as she knows her confession about her marriage will only lend her into the worst.
These caste panchayats are illegal in nature but still people dwelling in villages continue to obey their rulings. According to P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister, “Caste panchayats are informal bodies and have no legal status as such. Often, villagers give precedence to the judgement of a caste panchayat rather than that delivered by the courts of law.”
Honour killing is not limited to Haryana only, it is prevalent in western UP and Punjab as well. In the name of tradition, the caste panchayats reward murder of a married couple or declare the man and woman as brother and sister or even sit on an indefinite protest to throw out a family from a village. These acts are done in front of everyone’s eye but nobody is taking that needed extra step to stop such a crime.
As honour killings do not come under the National Crime Bureau, there are no enough records on this dreadful act and that is why the culprits are roaming around the town without any hesitance. It is due to the lack of government’s intervention, this heinous crime is increasing day by day. The policy makers in the government knowingly stay away from these issues to satiate their political desires. They know that if they interfere in this matter, they will lose a handsome vote banks from the region. With such malice prevailing in the society, the country can hardly progress and will be unable to compete on international platform.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

‘Encountered’ Manipur

Would a judicial probe suffice Manipur’s angst?

Finally, the state government of Manipur ordered a judicial inquiry into the fake encounter of Mr. Chungkham Sanjit on August 27. The decision came after a month of turmoil with bandhs, protests and curfews in the state due to the alleged fake encounter. The judicial inquiry commission will be headed by Retired Justice, PG Aggarwal of the Gauhati High Court.
However, the Joint Action Committee or Apunba Lup, formed in connection with the killing of the youth, is of the notion that there is no need to form a commission when it is quite evident from the photographs taken by the Tehelka magazine that who all were involved in the fake encounter. The Lup is asking the government to take immediate steps without going into judicial probe by punishing all those involved in the encounter.
It is to be noted that on July 23, Ch Sanjit ,a former militant and Th Rabina, a pregnant woman were killed and five others were injured during an encounter at the busy Imphal market. Tehelka, a national news magazine exposed the fake encounter in front of the nation. Due to the Tehelka’s exposure, the truth came in front of the public and for a month now, the people of Manipur have started strong agitation by staging protests, bandhs, strikes and the like. People are protesting against the insensitive attitude of the system, they are raising slogans like ‘Stop killing innocents’, ‘ Stop fake encounters’, ‘CM should resign’, ‘Suspend the commandos’, the famous old slogan – ‘Repeal AFSPA’ and the like.
To combat the agitation, the state government imposed indefinite curfew all over the state which is still going on. Besides, security has been alerted in and around Imphal town by deploying armed forces at strategic locations. Also, during the relaxation hour of curfew, gathering of four-five people is prohibited.
In all these developments, it is the civilians of the state who are suffering and are stuck in this vicious circle of regular killings of innocent people, bombings, fight between the system and the so-called freedom fighters (insurgents) of Manipur. According to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Manipur reported the second highest number of fake encounters after Uttar Pradesh during 2008-09. A senior home ministry official said, "The rising figures could well explain the current public unrest in Manipur where people have been on the street against trigger-happy cops ever since the state witnessed the killing of two persons in an encounter on July 23.”
It is so unfortunate that today’s mainstream media do not have enough space to cover these grievous situations where 2-3 persons, mostly civilians, are killed on a daily basis in this part of the country. Instead they give importance to some potholes developed on a city road, the minor mishaps happening in a metro city, celebs’ quarrel and many such trivial issues.
It is to be observed how effective the said commission would be in probing the fake encounter; specially, when the people of Manipur have stopped believing in such commissions and the system itself. They want quick result and quick justice from a responsible government. “We demand punishment of accused police commandos”, Phulindro Konsam, Spokesman of Apunba Lup said, “otherwise we’ll launch various forms of agitations.”