Indian woman, 20, killed by her family for eloping with man from 'wrong caste'
A young Indian woman was beaten to death and her boyfriend beheaded in an "honour killing" by relatives after they eloped in defiance of local caste rules.
The couple was attacked and killed in front of neighbours in their home village after they were persuaded to return with promises that they would be safe. The young woman’s father, uncle and two associates have been arrested for the murders.
Their deaths have highlighted the scale of "honour killing" in India where more than 1000 are murdered every year, mainly for breaking caste rules on relationships.
Dharmender Barak, a 23-year-old studying information technology in Rohtak, Haryana, and his girlfriend Nidhi, a 20-year-old arts student, had run away from their village on Tuesday in fear for their safety and fled to Delhi, 40 miles away.
The spent the night in the Indian capital but decided to return to their home in Ghanavati village after Nidhi’s parents called to assure them they need not be afraid and indicated they would accept their relationship. They are believed to have been in a relationship for several years despite warnings.
Both the young man and woman were members of the same gotra — clan or sub-group of the Jat caste — whose elders regard intra-clan marriage as incest, even they are not blood relatives.
Local councils of clan elders, known as Khap Panchayats have ordered runaway lovers to be killed and demanded government support for their right to carry out such honour killings.
Dharmender and Nidhi were grabbed shortly after their return on Wednesday and Nidhi was beaten to death as a small crowd of neighbours gathered to watch.
None of them tried to save her, police said. She was later cremated in a field, while her boyfriend Dharmender was beaten, his arms and legs broken, and then beheaded nearby. His body was dumped outside his family’s home in the village.
Both sets of parents are said to be wealthy landowners in their relatively affluent village.
“Four arrests have been made so far and the investigations are on. We have retrieved the half-burnt body of the girl and sent it for post-mortem.…Prima facie it looks like a planned murder,” said Rohtak’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar.
“They are love martyrs in our eyes...It’s shocking that they’ve been killed in the name of clan. They were innocent children and they never knew the intention of their families to kill them. They went back in the hope of living peacefully with them. Had they come to us we would have told them not to go back,” said Sanjoy Sachdev, head of the 'Love Commandos’ group which rescues runaway lovers and offers safe house accommodation to protect them from their relatives.