NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court has called for authorities to act after a spate of so-called “honour killings” that have highlighted the deadly effect of continuing caste tensions in the country.
The court ordered the central government and several states to file reports on the murders of young lovers who were apparently killed by relatives outraged at relationships that crossed Hinduism’s strict caste divisions.
Last week, police in New Delhi arrested the father and uncle of a girl who was stabbed, gagged and electrocuted along with her boyfriend in a suspected “honour killing” that caused widespread public disgust.
Asha Saini, 19, was found dead in a low-income neighbourhood along with her 21-year-old boyfriend Yogesh Kumar, whom she wanted to marry despite objections from her family who disapproved because he came from a lower caste.
“I have no regrets,” her uncle later told reporters, explaining the lovers brought shame on the family. “I will punish them all over again if given another chance.”
Most “honour killings” in India target young couples who dare to marry outside their caste and are killed by relatives in an attempt to protect the family’s reputation.
On Sunday, a young Delhi couple in their 20s were allegedly gunned down by the girl’s family four years after she disobeyed her parents by marrying a man from a different caste.
In another case within the last week, police in Haryana state said two teenage lovers found dead may also have been victims of an “honour killing.”
The couple, who had being dating for several months, were discovered hanging from a fan in what police believe may have been an effort to disguise the deaths as a suicide pact.
Advocate and social activist Ravi Kant told AFP that the Supreme Court judges on Monday ordered the central government and states to deliver reports into various suspected “honour killings” within four weeks.
“At the moment there is no law pertaining to ‘honour killings’ in India,” Kant said. “The rise in killing young couples over their choice of partner is a national scandal.”