news Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 05:30

Image courtesy: Sarah/ Flickr Twenty-four-year-old Iragouda Malagouda Patil and 19-year-old Sangeeta Sadanand Talukar, of Belagavi district were in love for the last two years. When news of them having an affair was made public, the families objected to their relationship on the grounds that they belonged to different castes. Dejected by their families’ reaction to the news, Iragouda and Sangeeta went to a lodge and hung themselves using two ends of a veil on Monday, The Times of India reported. While this may not have been a case of honour killing, couples committing suicide or being killed due to caste, community or religion differentiation is not new in India. In fact, couples are often driven to such an extreme step due to objections from parents and extended family members. In a few cases, relatives often resort to “honour killing” in the most grotesque forms such as stabbing, pouring acid, hacking, torturing and other means. An example of such an instance that borders on honour killing is the recent double murder of a newly-wed couple near Bengaluru by the woman’s brother. Kasturi had left her first husband whom she had married against her wishes and had eloped with Basavaraju, whom she was in love with even before her first marriage. After eloping, Basavaraju and Kasturi got married and settled down in the outskirts of Bengaluru to start life afresh. But little did they know that their happiness would cost them their lives. Kasturi’s brother tracked them down and brutally murdered them by stabbing them multiple times and slitting their throats. There are no statistics available on “honour killings” committed across the country annually as there is no such category classified under the National Crime Records Bureau reports. According to statistics made available by United Nations in 2013, 5000 cases of honour killing were reported globally, of which 1000 were from India alone.  The question of repentance for such murders is rare, since they are the perpetrators of the crime. But it is not unheard of when couples kill themselves in desperation after their families object to their love. It happened in the case of Sangeeta and Iragouda where their families deeply regreted their actions after it was too late. Their families rushed to the hospital on learning about the suicide. At the mortuary, Sangeeta’s grieving relatives approached Iragouda parents and expressed regret over the deaths and suggested they be married at least now, as this perhaps had been their last wish. In the next few hours, the families made arrangements for their funeral as well as their marriage. The sacred thread of mangalsutra coated with turmeric was tied around Sangeeta’s neck with Iragouda’s cold, lifeless hands. The bodies were subsequently cremated on a single pyre, reported The Times of India. While they fight to safeguard their family prestige, name, honour by not mixing blood with another caste, community, religion, what parents fail to realise is that their views could push their adult children over the edge. Vidya Dinkar of Coalition Against Immoral Policing (CAIP) says it is important for parents of this day and age to allow children the freedom to choose their life partners. “Societal norms and culture are given more importance over children’s happiness. Living by society’s standards that condemns inter-caste or inter-community marriages will stifle their children,” she says. She says parents must be encouraged to make room for children to explore and allow them to make decisions for themselves early in life. They must also be taught to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes. Early intervention, she says will help children and choosing a partner should be their choice, she says.  

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