Dishonour’ killings and the family that stood up to khaps

As there’s no honour in killing, panelists at a session called ‘A Hate Story’ agreed with the suggestion from a member of the audience that honour killings should be called dishonour killings. The khap panchayats which order and endorse such heinous crimes drew ample flak at the session moderated by journalist-writer Sameera Khan.

Chander Suta Dogra spoke on the brutal death of the young couple Manoj and Babli, central characters in her book on honour killings , Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story, while the urbane sarpanch of Soda village (Rajasthan) Chhavi Rajawat shared her experiences of working among people who guard medieval customs even as acute power cuts and water shortage beg more attention. As a token of appreciation , TOI and Yes Bank, one of the Carnival’s sponsors, donated Rs 30,000 each to Manoj’s family. His mother Chandrapati and sister Seema were present.

While Chandrapati kept mum, the spunky Seema amazed all with the story of the courage she and her mother showed to ensure that the killers of Manoj and Babli were put behind bars. This is the first conviction in a case of honour killing in India and has been widely reported.

“Customs are made for human beings. Customs should not be and cannot be allowed to be used to kill people,” said Seema, who joined the Haryana police as a constable and is also studying law. She added that her family has battled boycott and other humiliations imposed by the villagers just because it stood up to the khap’s diktats and refused to buckle under pressure. “The village potters refused to sell us even pots to carry asthi (ashes) of Manoj and Babli whose bodies were discovered from a canal miles away from their village. Pots can be bought from anywhere. It is the insensitivity of the villagers to brutal death that caused us more pain,” Seema said.

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