Tag Archives: punjab

WATCH BOOK TALK: ‘TRAIN TO PAKISTAN’ by Khushwant Singh

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

 

 

Advertisements

BOOK TALK: WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME? … by Ravinder Singh

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Read initiative–

This is an attempt to create interest in reading books. We may not get time to read all the books. But such reviews and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

TITLE: WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME?

RAVINDER SINGH

Publisher: Penguin

 Abridged in about thousand words for your quick assimilation

    There are times when a frightful mishap might instigate you to write a novel around it. This appears to be one such instance. Where, the author opens the book with an insinuation of a personal tragedy. He as if nudges his dad—who is enduring through the aftermath of a road accident, and then coming to terms with his life, which is not easy. Especially, when, life is not going to be the same there on.’

    This stimulates the author to make a valid point by highlighting some deplorable statistics that happens to be a sad reality of our country—‘Around a lakh and fifty thousand people die in road accidents each year in India. Just in case a disease would have taken these many lives. It would have been pronounced long back, as an epidemic. But sadly in India it is still not considered so. In less than every four minutes, carelessness claims a life on Indian roads. By the time you finish reading this book, probably, it would have claimed a lot many of us.’

    CENTRAL THEME: Of course … it is a love story.  With an overdose of coincidences, that spirals into a stunning romance. That would generally appeal to the young and perky age group or the likes of them. There is also a life lesson that the book offers in the ultimate. But that could have been scripted, more forcefully, in all sincerity. The book tow chain’s between the regular chapters narrating the past and the in-between lackluster chapters narrating the present, titled as the ‘Present’ that comes at regular intervals. That is after the completion of a few regular chapters. The author could have avoided this to make the continuity of the plot more weighing and the end more wholesome.

    PLOT: The series of coincidences, commence, when Rajbeer and Lavanya are juxtaposed in an aircraft flying from Mumbai to Chandigarh. Rajbeer hails from Patiala, where he owns a garment store along with his brother and father. He comes from a Sikh background but he himself is a cut-sardar.     

    Lavanya is a girl from Assam who has spent her childhood and teens in Shillong. The scenic hill capital of Meghalaya. So we are now talking of a North and North-East alliance. She now works in Mumbai, and is on her way to attend her best friend Shalini’s wedding in Chandigarh. They both start chatting in the aircraft that soon evolves into a warm friendship with some rollicking banters. This is followed by another coincidence. When at the airport they inadvertently lift the wrong bags that looked similar. This warrants Rajbeer to return half way from Patiala. When, he realizes the mistake and decides to track down Lavanya through the airlines, to retrieve his bag that is laden with cash as her bag was with him. This gives them the opportunity to be together for some more time. After the wedding Lavanya goes back to Mumbai. This is followed by another coincidence when Lavanya gets her MBA admission in Indian School of Business at Mohalli. So she is back with Rajbeer once again when the courtship only grows and intensifies. But by now one begins to feel as if one is watching an Anand Bakshi movie of the seventies starring Rajesh Khanna. A quote from the book, ‘who knows if love is a creation of conspiracy’ surely justifies the string of coincidences.

    Gradually, the romance peaks into a full blown love story. When, the protagonists finally decide to spend their lives together by getting married. While doing her MBA, Lavanya also starts teaching destitute children in the slums. That happens to be her prime mission and passion of life. In fact earlier she had given up her Google job because of this undying passion of hers.  She is extremely talented—a graduate from IIT Bombay who follows her heart. Where, Rajbeer is from GuruNanak Dev Engineering College of Punjab that gives him a fleeting complex of sorts.

    But then Rajbeer’s family has reservations about Lavanya, because she has chinky features with ‘almond eyes’ so to say and is sadly described as a ‘Chinese’ by Rajbeer’s father. A typical mindset of North Indian’s when it comes to people from the North-East. To which Rajbeer revolts in a soft manner when he doesn’t go with his family to Darbar Sahab in Amritsar. Instead he escorts Lavanya to Shillong on a holiday. The trek scene of Shillong is described quite in detail by the author—especially for those who love trekking.

    Lavanya with her exceptional talent continues with her classes for the destitute. Soon she is shortlisted by her college for a debate. Where, she represents the state of Punjab even when she is from the North-East. And as luck would have it. She figures in a tweet sent out from the twitter handle of the Chief Minister of Punjab. This makes her a local celebrity overnight. When, the family of Rajbeer finally agrees to marry them.

    But then the story takes a bizarre turn from chapter twenty three. When, Rajbeer tries to locate Lavanya and Chutki the young daughter of a police constable Madhav Singh. Who regularly attends Lavanya’s classes in the slums, in the midst of a severe storm and rain, one evening. Where, his inveterate habit of breaking traffic rules and speeding to madness finally makes the horrendous dent in their lives. I should not reveal the suspense I guess.

    The story has a plethora of intimate scenes. Perhaps, that happens to be the key driver of, such romantic novels.

    On the whole it was not a very moving story for me. However the book has its strength in terms of detailing and imagination of the author that includes:

    A trek in Shillong/A Punjabi wedding/ Bhangra dance/A sensual scene in the kitchen while making tea/Description of Guwahati and Shillong/Passionate feelings of Lavanya and Rajbeer all throughout/Description of a … typical Punjabi family/Local market of Patiala/A well defined buying process of salwar kameez perhaps he had lived the role/ Detailing of Patiala town/A scene of the hospital.

    About running through this book. The choice is yours …..

 *****  

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

 

SHORT STORY: THE SIKH GURU

Copyright@shravancharitymission

By Kamlesh Tripathi

sikh flag gloom

An excerpt from the book ‘Gloom behind the Smile’

    It is amazing to see some cities and states losing people to other urban areas that are dynamic. This has also been happening across countries and continents. I guess this is how civilizations kept moving from one place to another. I was reading about a Sikh Guru. He once visited a village and stayed there for a few days and then prepared to leave. While he was leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper by staying here only.’ Guru moved on and as night was setting in he camped in another village and stayed there for a couple of days and enjoyed their hospitality. While leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper and move to other parts of the world.’ A keen follower.Who was watching. Asked the Guru as to why he had given two types of blessings. To his disciples in two different villages. The Guru replied that the people of the first village. Though looked after me, were not very cultured. Therefore, I blessed them. But prayed to God. That they should not move out and spread their culture. I found the second village well cultured. Therefore I wished to the Almighty. That these people should prosper and travel to other parts of the world. So that they spread the light of their sweetness and culture everywhere.

Write to us for hard copies. Or you could purchase the book online from any book store. E-book can be downloaded from Antrik.com or Pothi.com.

*****

SARBJIT SINGH’S SISTER RECOUNTS THE 3 TIMES SHE MET HIM IN 23 YEARS BEFORE HE DIED IN 2013

Copyright@shravancharitymission

By Kamlesh Tripathi

New Doc 67_1New Doc 68_1

This is a nostalgic account narrated by Dalbir Singh, elder sister of Sarbjit Singh:

  • Sarbjit Singh had to spend 23 years in a Pakistani prison for a small mistake he committed unknowingly, and eventually he was murdered there—He headed in the wrong direction, towards Pakistan, at night after working in his fields located close to the LOC in Punjab and was nabbed by Pakistani rangers.
  • It is an emotional account of a sister; and pixels well about their relationship.
  • Dalbir Singh, Sarabjit’s elder sister considered him as her son. And after Sarabjit was whisked away by Pakistani authorities for 23 years she slept on the floor to please her God for his safe return.
  • It is said; sometimes there is success in defeat and sometimes there is defeat in success—it was success in defeat for Dalbir. For one cannot fathom the turbulence Dalbir must have undergone for 23 long years, each time blaming only herself that she hasn’t done enough to save her brother and she must continue with bigger and untiring efforts—so that was her success; and in the end not being able to save Sarbjit, her defeat.
  • I liked the account as it reminded me of my defeat, when I too could not save my ailing son from cancer, but like Dalbir the untiring  efforts that me and my family had put in gave a whiff of success. For in life one should only try his best and not get intimidated by what is beyond one’s capacity.
  • It also gives an account of how Indian prisoners are treated in Pakistani prisons.

  • Briefly describes how Indian prisoners are treated in Pakistani prisons.
  • Soon to be released as a film.

TOI- 26.5.15

SARBJIT SINGH’S SISTER RECOUNTS THE 3 TIMES SHE MET HIM IN 23 YEARS BEFORE HE DIED IN 2013

I am now determined to tell the world the real story of Sarbjit

Dalbir Singh, 61, is the older sister of Sarbjit Singh, a farmer from Bhikhiwind in Punjab (just 5 kms from the the Indo-Pakistan border). He by mistake crossed over in 1990 while farming, got mistaken as an Indian spy, was given capital punishment in 1991, but was not hanged. He was kept in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore for 23 years, before he was killed by inmates a few days after the death of Afzal Guru in India. During his 23 years in jail, his older sister Dalbir Singh who treated him more like her son than her brother, made it her life’s agenda to get him released. While she finally did not succeed, she is determined to reach his real story to the world through a film being made based on his life. The film will be directed by Omung Kumar, the National Award-winning director of Mary Kom. Dalbir Singh met her brother only three times in those 23 years. She opens up to us for the first time after her brother’s death in 2013 and recounts the three times she met her brother in jail. Excerpts:

Did instance like the Kargil War affect you?

At the time of Kargil, I got very scared. There is a nearby village called Khasa, where many army officers live. I went to meet them and asked Brigadier sahab, given the situation how it would affect the way Pakistan would treat our prisoners. I was scared that if there would be war, how would the prisoners come out? I met another Brigadier who told me that if there would be war, we would open up the jail and release the prisoners, so that an innocent man should not get bombed and die in jail. But he didn’t know what the Pakistanis would do. We would feel scared that Khuda na kare, if there was a bomb thrown in jail, how would he be able to run? My heart would sink if there was a flood or earthquake in Lahore.

How did Sarbjit actually cross over to Pakistan?

Our village is just about 4-5 kms from the border. I myself have gone many times to the other side while working together with the women from the other side on our fields. We would be working on our respective fields and sometimes, even eat a meal together with the Pakistani brothers and sisters on the other side.

Gradually and slowly, the situation got bad to worse and they first put a rough line to segregate a boundary and then, there were some fundamentalists on both sides who did not have good thoughts. Though I believe that ours were not as negative as the people on the other side. There would be things smuggled in across the borders, but the women had good behaviour towards each other and there was no enemity. However, if there was anybody who went the other side by mistake, they would be caught and put behind bars termed as ‘spies’. That night, we had finished our dinner when a friend of Sarbjit came and took him to the fields to work. The field was right next to the border. As is usually the case in Punjab, the men drink and then work. Sarbjit and his friend too had their full share of drinks and then, Sarbjit put his axe on his shoulder and not realising which direction he was walking, he walked into the Pakistan side. At that time, there was not even a wire to show the borderline. He was caught and blindfolded and only the next morning, he realised that he was in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, accused of being an Indian spy by the name of Manjit Singh. Sarbjit was very fond of playing kabaddi and he would often tell me, ‘You wait and see. One day the world will know me as this famous pahelwan.’ I didn’t know then that he would one day become world famous, but not as a kabaddi player. When Sarabjit suddenly disappeared, I initially thought that he must have been picked up by a terrorist group. But it was after nine months, later when he was first presented in the Pakistani courts that he wrote a letter to me telling us how he had been arrested accused of being a man called Manjit Singh, who was allegedly behind four bomb blasts. He asked to please get Shri Akhand Sahib path done. After that in every subsequent letter; he wrote to me details of what he went through. I have all his letters kept in a big bag with me. On August 15, 1991, he was held guilty and sentenced to be hanged. But for so many years, they neither released him nor hanged him despite my making so many appeals and requests for his forgiveness, even though he had committed no crime.

Why was it difficult for you to meet him?

I did not even have a passport, but right from 1990, I tried a lot to go but I never got the permission. At times, I would read in the newspapers that yes, his family can come and meet him, but then there was a call from Pakistan that there was news printed there that they would not grant us permission. Finally I met Rahul Gandhi and took his help to get the visa for me and finally got the visa along with my husband, Sarbjit’s wife and his two daughters Swapandeep and Poonam (Swapandeep was adopted by Dalbir as she does not have kids of her own). While we got the visa and reached Lahore, we were still not allowed to meet him. The jail authorities would say that they had not got permission from Islamabad and Islamabad would say that Lahore had not given the permission. After nine days of feeling mentally tortured, living in Gurudwara Dera Sahib there, I decided to appeal in the High Court. The judge was very kind and he immediately granted permission. It was too late that day, but the next day on April 23, 2008, we all went to jail to see Sarbjit.

What happened in jail that day?

He had been kept in a tiny room where you could hardly stand up with tall walls outside with a big lock. A mother can easily recognise her son. As soon as they opened the door to his room for us to go inside, I recognised him. He was standing at an angle and seeing him, my heart was sinking. His eyesight had gone weak and he wore a broken pair of glasses tied with a thread to hold them together: I told him, ‘At least you could have worn proper glasses.’ He said, ‘I got a lot of gaalis to even get this.’ I remembered that in one of his letters to me, he had written how his eyes burn and itch but the authorities would abuse and harass him, but not give him medicines and glasses. I wanted to hug him but I was not allowed to do so even once, so I held his hand and sat down on the other side of the bars next to him. I held his hands and told him, “Sarbjit, I wish I could have turned blind before seeing you like this.’ I cried profusely so much so, that I fell down holding the bars and got hurt in my forehead. That day knowing we were coming to meet him, he had requested the jail authorities to allow him some water, cold drink and ingredients for tea, as he wanted to make tea for me and serve me. They had given him a stove and he had made tea himself, sticking his hands out of the bars, and then kept it in a flask to serve us later. When I fell down, he got hassled and quickly gave me water and cold drink. Most of the 48 minutes went into crying, but fortunately he met his daughters and we talked a little about his case. I also tied him rakhi and he said, ‘I have nothing to give you today.’ He had tears in his eyes, but he tried to hide them from me even though I knew. I fed him with a piece of barfi like I always did and he bit my hand with his teeth. He said, ‘You have come to give me strength, then why are you scared?’ He recognised his daughters as he had seen their pictures through the newspaper reports. He told me how the Indian prisoners would send him newspaper cuttings hidden behind his rotis. And these he stored in the register he had kept. At that time he was sure he would come back. The one regret that I had was that I was not allowed to hug him.

What was his jail like?

There was no fan inside but outside for us, there was a small fan kept. Inside his room, he had a small pot of water with which he had to manage for the whole day, his bathing, washing clothes, using the washroom or drinking.

Did you visit him again?

I met him again in 2011, when he showed me a diary and register, where he said that he had written every word of what had happened to him in those many years. I wanted that diary after he died, as I wanted everyone to know what he went through in jail, but it was not given to me. When his body came in 2013, only that clay pot came with it. I got to meet him for three hours in 2011. And on this visit, I went to visit him twice. Unlike the last visit, this time he had not taken his bath, not prepared anything for me and looked indifferent. He was quiet and I asked him what happened? He said, ‘Didi, for many days, I don’t even eat or sleep or take a bath and I keep thinking why I am in this state and I keep thinking whether I will come back or not. I can’t even tell you what I go through here.’ I felt that if he kept thinking like that, he would get mentally ill. I summed up strength to give him some and wanted to tie many rakhis that I had taken from here, many of which had been given to me by women in the village. He said, ‘Chalo, you give them to me. I will keep tying it up slowly later.’ I said, ‘No, why are you talking like this? You will be with me in our aangan on the next rakhi.’ It’s only when I visited him for the second time that he was waiting for me, ready to serve me lassi that he had made mixing curd and water and the jail dal. He knew that I was the only one he could tell and told me how they would abuse Indians a lot there. If you ask the jail authorities for medicines or glasses or water, they would say, ‘Aaj bahar nikale? Aaj paani pilaye hi dete hain tumhe.’ He said, ‘Sometimes, they would beat me, sometimes I managed by begging them for forgiveness.’

Was it ever proven that Sarbjit had been convicted wrongly?

The sole witness of the Pakistani police Shaukat Ali was once interviewed by an Indian journalist, who managed to find him there and he said, ‘I don’t know whether Sarbjit has done it and whether he is Manjit or Sarbjit. Those days, my father had died and the police had asked me to say that Sarbjit was Manjit and that he had committed the bomb blasts in court and I said it.’

How did he finally die?

Over the years, there were many times when I would wonder if he would ever come back, but then again, I would meet people and get assured that he would come back. I had kept all the navratras, slept on the floor for 23 years, but it was after meeting SM Krishnaji, the External Affairs minister, that I felt most assured that Sarbjit would be released for sure. I don’t know from where I got the strength to fight, but I was determined and had decided that I would fight, come what may. But I quickly trust people and start feeling they are my own, but got cheated each time. Before Sheikh sahab, all the lawyers who represented us took the money from us, but cheated us in court. They did not even present our case of him not being Manjit even though they had the papers proving that. Afzal Guru had been hanged in India a couple of days before Sarbjit was attacked in prison. We learnt that there was a man who would go inside jail and supply sharpened spoons and knives made from sandooks inside jail to the prisoners there. I feel the Pakistani prisoners there took Afzal’s revenge by killing Sarabjit. I was with Swapandeep the day he was attacked. I had been having a severe back problem for two days and was in terrible pain. I could not sleep and was restless when suddenly I got a call from Pakistan telling me how he had been attacked. I screamed and woke up Swapandeep who was sleeping, but I thought we would still be able to treat him and get him back alive. It’s only when I got his body in the hospital in Lahore that I finally broke down and realised that I had lost my son forever: Uss pal meri umeed bhi khatam ho gayi aur intezaar bhi.

Are you free now?

No, I try but I can never forget Sarbjit. I wish he had come back. For 23 years, my only goal was to get him released. But now, I want people to know who he actually was. What happened with Sarbjit inside jail? What happens to Indians inside Pakistani jails? There is an innocent Pakistani prisoner in Tihar, who has paralysis, that Sarbjit would tell me about. Through this film, I want a message to go to all. I could not bring back Sarbjit, but I hope that this Pakistani child in Tihar is released.

Priya.Gupta@timesgroup.com

 

ARTICLE: KILLING FOR FALSE HONOUR, BUT DYING FOR REAL LOVE

Islamabad and Delhi are located around seven hundred km apart and are divided by an explosive and turbulent international border, with ever increasing aggressive efforts to keep each side sanitized from the overall influence of the other. Yet there appears to be a commonality of sorts that refuses to die. The madness of honour killing. The ethnicity of large parts of Pakistan and that of north India was never too different before independence and even now per se. But post independence India opened up, and moved on- though not whole hog. But Pakistan preferred to remain where it was, rather took some steps backwards.

index rr jjj ppp

Yalda Hakim, Afghanistan born correspondent and presenter of BBC World News, highlights. How in Pakistan women who dare to pursue relationships of their own choice are in danger of losing their lives. She says in her recently published article in TOI- “Dying for Love”

‘In a country fighting to preserve patriarchal and tribal traditions, Pakistan’s women can face brutality- and even death- if they fall in love with the wrong person.

Arifa 25, dared to stand up to her family, running away with the man she fell in love with and secretly marrying him. The following day in a busy street in Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, her male family members surrounded the newlyweds and, at gunpoint, dragged Arifa away. After great difficulty her husband, Abdul Malik, managed to establish that she was alive and had been hidden somewhere. Fearing for his life, he has lived in hiding for three months. He says,

“In Pakistan, love is a big sin. Centuries have passed, the world has made so much progress- men have reached the heavens. But our men are still following age-old customs –which focus on denying women freedom.”

In May 2014, the case of the young pregnant woman Farzana Parveen shocked the world. She was stoned to death by her family for marrying the man she was in love with, rather than the man they had chosen for her. This happened outside Lahore high court, in front of the policemen and passersby.

In November, following worldwide media attention, Parveen’s father, brother, cousin and former fiancé were all found guilty of murder and given death sentence. But more often than not, those who commit these brutal acts against women are never charged, protected by tribal laws.

Last year alone, more than 1,000 women were murdered for so-called honour crimes. Some hard-line religious scholars believe that only through the killing of an offending family member-usually a woman-can honour be restored to the rest of the family and tribe. Few people in Pakistan nowadays are willing to challenge these tribal traditions and customs. In fact, according to a recent survey, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis support the full implementation of Sharia law- Islam’s legal system.’

In 1979, General Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator, introduced the so called Hudood Ordinance- a controversial set of laws that attempted to Islamise Pakistan. Among other things, it made adultery punishable by stoning and lashing. In 2006, the then President Pervez Musharraf tried to protect women, but the enforcement of his reforms has been limited and adultery remains a crime. Karachi’s central prison for women is where many of those accused of adultery end up.’

BUT IS NORTH INDIA ANY DIFFERENT THAN PAKISTAN IN TERMS OF HONOUR KILLINGS?

Yes only in terms of the scale which is less. While we can say what happens in Pakistan is barbaric, but then honour killings are often reported in the northern regions of India also, and mainly from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as a result of marrying without their family’s acceptance and sometimes also for marrying outside their caste.

And in contrast honour killings are a rarity in South India and the western states of Maharastra and Gujarat. In some other parts of India, notably West Bengal, honour killings completely ceased about a century ago, largely due to activism and influence of reformists such as Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Vidyasagar and Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Wish they had also spread their activism in North India.

REPORTS OF SOME SPECIFIC HONOUR KILLINGS IN NORTH INDIA

The Indian state of Punjab has a large number of honour killings. According to the data compiled by the Punjab Police, 34 honour killings were reported in the state between 2008 and 2010: 10 in 2008, 20 in 2009 and four in 2010’

Haryana is also notorious for incidents of honour killing, mainly in the upper caste of the society, among Rajputs and Jaats; considered literate. And, so can we say it has nothing to do with literacy levels?

Bhagalpur in the eastern state of Bihar has also been notorious for honour killings. Recent cases include a 16-year-old girl, Imrana, from Bhojpur who was set on fire inside her house in a case of what the police called ‘moral vigilantism.’ The victim had screamed for help for about 20 minutes before neighbours arrived, only to find her smouldering body. She was admitted to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries. In May 2008, Jayvirsingh Bhadodiya shot his daughter Vandana Bhadodiya and struck her on the head with an axe. In June some incidents were reported from Delhi.

In June 2012, a man chopped off his 20-year-old daughter’s head with a sword in Rajasthan after learning that she was dating men. According to police officer Omkar Singh, the accused told the court that his daughter Manju had relations with several men. He had asked her to mend her ways several times in the past. However, she did not pay heed. Out of pure rage, he chopped off her head with the sword.

A young couple who were planning to marry were brutally murdered in Garnauthi village, state of Haryana on 18 September 2013 because they were having a love affair. The woman, Nidhi, was beaten to death and the man, Dharmender, was dismembered alive. People in the village and neighbouring villages approved of the killings.

MEASURES AGAINST HONOUR KILLINGS

In 1990 the National Commission for Women set up a statutory body in order to address the issues of honor killings among some ethnic groups in North India. This body reviewed constitutional, legal, and other provisions as well as challenges women faced. The NCW’s activism has contributed significantly towards the reduction of honor killings in rural areas of North India. According to Pakistani activists Hina Jilani and Eman M. Ahmed, Indian women are considerably better protected against honor killings by Indian law and government than Pakistani women, and they have suggested that governments of countries affected by honor killings use Indian law as a model in order to prevent honor killings in their respective societies.

In a landmark judgement in March 2010, Karnal district court ordered the execution of five perpetrators of an honour killing in Kaithal, and imprisoning for life the khap (local caste-based council) chief who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli (19) a man and woman of the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007. Despite having been given police protection on court orders, they were kidnapped; their mutilated bodies were found a week later in an irrigation canal.

In June 2010, scrutinizing the increasing number of honor killings, the Supreme Court of India issued notices to the Central Government and six states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, to take preventive measures against honor killings.

Alarmed by the rise of honor killings, the Government planned to bring a bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament July 2010 to provide for deterrent punishment for ‘honor’ killings.

In recent times, the Khap system has attracted criticism from groups, citing the stark prejudice that such groups allegedly hold against others. Women’s Organisation AIDWA has made allegations, in some cases where the Khaps are alleged to have initiated threats of murder and violence to couples who marry outside of the circle.

Supreme Court has declared these ‘Khap panchayats’ as illegal, which often decree or encourage honour killings or other institutionalised atrocities against boys and girls of different castes and religions who wish to get married or have married.

So honour killing is utterly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is no honour in these killings and atrocities. In fact, it is nothing else but barbaric and shameful. Brutal atrocities committed by feudal-minded persons deserve very harsh punishments. And only by acting against it can we stamp out this atrocious feudal mentality. The other thing that needs to be crushed along with it are the Kangaroo courts that are mushrooming all over.

But in all of this the most scathing has been the behavior of some political parties both in Pakistan and India who in the interest of votes have never taken a bulldozing approach either jointly or severally towards all such individuals and self styled institutions who promote honour killings.

*****