Friday, May 16, 2008

"A murder of morality"

That is how a panchayat (village council) member described the murder of a young couple in a village in Haryana, not too far from Delhi. Their crime? They were in love, and she was pregnant ... however, in the Jat community, boys and girls from the same village simply don't do this. And who has confessed to the murder? The father of the young girl.
Five armed men burst into the small room and courtyard at dawn, just as 21-year-old, 22-week pregnant, Sunita was drying her face on a towel.

They punched and kicked her stomach as she called out for her sleeping boyfriend "Jassa", 22-year-old Jasbir Singh, witnesses said. When he woke, both were dragged into waiting cars, driven away and strangled.

Their bodies, half-stripped, were laid out on the dirt outside Sunita's father's house for all to see, a sign that the family's "honor" had been restored by her cold-blooded murder.
At the small police post in Balla, a constable admitted the case was unlikely to ever reach prosecution, with the village putting enormous pressure on the police, and especially Jasbir's family, to quietly drop the case.
And while one shakes one head and goes on about how can this happen in today's India of the 21st century and the economic boom, let's not forget: human dignity has never been a huge hallmark of Indian society, which has managed, for several millenia, to keep a vast segment of society in the cruelest form of slavery. (For the record, universal human dignity has not been a hallmark of much of human history ... and even in Christian societies, the record has been far from perfect) And it's not about education and wealth -- these are prosperous upper-caste Jats (Incidentally, Haryana has one of the most skewed sex ratios, thanks to selective abortion).

NDTV: The entire village is going to make sure that no one testifies when the case goes to trial.

Times Now: No remorse for murdering my daughter. (More Indian media stories, from Google News Search)

The reporter who filed that Reuters story writes a little more at his blog -- this certainly is a challenge to the police, but also to the overall sense of the rule of law in India, which is tenuous at best. Here's an interesting comment that one R. Murugan left on his blog:
The best way to bring peace to India is to convert all north Indians to Christians. Hinduism never improves the status of any Indian. Over past 2000 years hindus have been still kept as a low caste people and that's why such things happen in North India.

South India is flourishing as South Indians adapt to Christianity quickly. In 50 years, South will overtake North in prosperity, wealth and health.

Time to think now. Indians !!
A most un-PC thought, but one that I often think about. Of course, being a Southern Indian himself (at least from his name), he can be excused for some amount of bias. But the South is hardly free from casteism, or patriarchy. And segments of the North (at least tribals) have been converted to Christianity ... and let's not forget the Norhteast ... anyway, there is no magical way to "convert all north Indians" (or all Indians). And, when it comes to caste, conversion hasn't immediately lead to an escape from the confines of caste, either in the North or the South.

[In Googling around, I found it highly ironic that the Muslim web portal IslamOnline reported this story as: "Hindus proud of honor killing." Umm, like honor-killings don't occur in the Muslim world? Puh-lease!]

1 comment:

Mac said...

Actually one more readily associates honour killings with Muslim Pakistan than Hindu India, so no. And whatever is Mr Murugan thinking of, to suggest that conversion to Christianity makes a difference in caste-consciousness? Silly fellow. Tamil friends tell dreary stories of the minutiae of lungi-draping and where the hemline must come in relation to one's ankle depending on one's caste among fellow Anglicans in Tamil Nadu. And of pious Christian mothers having a fit of the vapours over their children indulging in such heathenism as yoga on the one hand and on the other hand condemning their daughters to lifelong spinsterhood because their bridegroom of choice might be a fellow Anglican but is also from the wrong Hindu caste. (I wonder if Mr Murugan has considered the precise significance of his unfortunate, hair-raising Tamil name.)