Honour Killings – Punjab to protect runaway couples

Revised norms include jail for parents who threaten couples
Aditi Tandon  / Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3 The Tribune , Chandigarh



Runaway couples facing the threat of honour killing in Punjab are now entitled to state protection for six weeks from the date of their marriage. During this period, their lodging and boarding would also be the responsibility of the state. Couples apprehending trouble from their immediate or extended family have to simply make an application for protection in the court of the District Registrar, who now stands empowered to order adequate security deployment in such case.

These commitments have been made in Punjab Government’s revised guidelines to check cases of honour crimes. These guidelines form part of the affidavit filed the state recently filed in the Supreme Court which had earlier this year pulled up nine governments for failing to check violent honour killings, besides asking them what steps they were taking to ensure people’s right to life and property.

Rajasthan was the first to reply to the Apex Court in the matter, followed by the Punjab government which, in the affidavit, has committed itself to “eliminating all forms of honour killings.”

Strangely though the state – which is home to 50 per cent of all honour crime cases reported in India the past two years – mentions that such cases were “stray incidents and it had left no stone unturned in taking protective, corrective and pre-emptive measures to discourage these crimes”.

That apart, the important point Punjab has made in its admission to the Supreme Court relates to its non-tolerance of the heinous crime which involves alleged killing of women and men in love by their family members. The state’s freshly issued revised guidelines to deal with these cases mandate strict action against parents and family members who threaten couples who have inter-caste and love marriages; protection for newly-wed couples who apprehend danger to their life and liberty and even “counseling for the people to broaden their horizons and outlook in this matter.”

The state argues that honour killings can’t be eliminated unless mindsets change. “The root of the issue is being attended to by the Government,” the affidavit states. For their part, the revised guidelines, issued by Punjab Home Secretary, categorically order the setting up of mediation and counseling centres in the offices of police commissioners or SSPs to guide parents, relatives and couples to “live in peace”.

The guidelines also mandate special cells in village panchayats and cities to counsel resisting parents to reconcile with “such love forms and tell them that love does not harm family honour at all”. The affidavit, whose copy the Tribune has secured, further warns police officials against booking young boys who have married on their own in false cases of rape and kidnapping. “False cases should not be registered at the behest of parents etc under Sections 363/366/376 IPC against such couples who are majors. The tendency of relatives to separate couples should also be dealt with strictly,” says the state government order issued to all deputy commissioners, police commissioners and SSPs.

Apex court took the lead

In April, the Supreme Court had taken cognisance of the growing menace of honour killings, brought to light in a PIL filed by civil society organisation Shakti Vahini. The PIL documented the increasing number of killings of youngsters involved in inter-caste marriages. The SC then issued notices to nine states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, UP, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi to report what efforts they were making to curb the menace. Only Rajasthan and Punjab have filed their affidavits so far.


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