Shafiq R Khan


5 get death sentence, one life in Haryana honour killing case

 In a landmark judgement in a Haryana honour killing case, a court here today awarded capital punishment to five persons and life sentence to one for murdering a couple on the diktats of a self-styled community panchayat for marrying against societal norms.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Vani Gopal Sharma pronounced the sentence after reserving the judgement in the case yesterday.

The prosecution had termed the case as the "rarest of the rare" and pleaded for capital punishment to the six convicts for killing Manoj (23) and Babli (19), who hailed from Karora village in Kaithal district and had got married on May 18, 2007.

Last Thursday, the court had convicted them for murdering the couple of the same 'gotra' (sub-caste) in 2007. Another person was held guilty of abduction and the quantum of punishment was reserved.

It is the first case in which the boy's family had moved court against the honour killing after the 'khap' panchayat (caste-based council) had ruled against the couple's marriage.

Those sentenced are the girl's brother Suresh, uncles Rajender and Baru Ram and her cousins Gurdev and Satish besides leader of the panchayat Ganga Raj. A driver Mandeep Singh was convicted of kidnapping and awarded a seven year prison term.

Public prosecutor Sunil Rana described the court verdict as landmark judgement as khap panchayats "are acting against the law. They are taking law into their own hands and despite protection of the courts, innocent couples are being murdered".

Even a landmark Indian court decision on Tuesday, awarding the death sentence on five people found guilty of 'honour killing' in 2007, failed to silence the guns as another couple were gunned down in Punjab on the same day.

The newly-married couple were killed in broad daylight in Patti village near Amritsar, by their own family members when they defied their wishes not to wed.

Despite being cordoned by armed security guards, Prabjeet Kaur and husband Sandeep Singh were cut down by a hail of gunfire and died on the spot, reported the local media.

The Haryana Court had earlier ordered the couple to be given police protection after they received death threats.

"This incident should not have happened. It's sad. But the individual's behaviour was not correct. He had left his first wife and has a child. He married his wife's niece," Sukhdev Singh Brar, senior superintendent of police of Firozpur district told local television channels.

At Karnal yesterday, in the northern state of Haryana, a sessions court sentenced five people to the gallows for the murder of a young couple -- who hailed from the same village and clan -- in yet another case of killing to protect the family's reputation.

The accused in the case were members of a village panchayat, a committee of village elders, who had authorised the murder of the couple in 2007.

Manjo, 23, and wife Babli, 19, were dragged out of a bus, murdered and their bodies hurled into a canal in Haryana, widely known for senseless honour killings.

Village 'wise men' had been meting out medieval justice to young couples if they chose to marry from the same gotra (clan) or village, which the panchyat considers as comprising brothers and sisters.

The court's verdict was seen as a major victory to curb the rise in honour killing crimes in rural Indian villages dominated by the age-old panchayat system where hundreds, mostly women, are killed annually.
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