Indian court issues heavy verdict for honor killings

21:41, March 31, 2010      

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India has appeared firm not to let the criminals committing honor killings, which has been killing hundreds of young men and young women for seeking free love every year, go unpunished from now on.

Five elders were sentenced to death and life sentences Tuesday by a court here in the northern state of Haryana for killing a young couple who married each other against the will of the bride' s family three years ago.

This is the first time for an Indian court to seriously punish such crimes.

Manoj, 23, had married Babli, 19, from village Karora of Haryana, against the wishes of their family. They lived in Karnal town in Haryana, northern India, and were murdered in June 2007 after village elders accused the couple of violating the code of conduct related to marriage.

Manoj, who ran an electronics repair shop at Kaithal district of Haryana, eloped with Babli, resident of Karoran village in May 2007. They were found murdered the next month.

According to the police, the girl's relatives dragged the couple out of a Karnal-bound bus in June 2007. The newly weds were brutally murdered and their bodies thrown into an irrigation canal.

The couple was killed simply for marrying outside their gotra ( sub-caste).

And now three years after the incident, in a historic judgment, five persons have been awarded death penalty by a Haryana court in this honor killing case.

All the five who were given on Tuesday the death sentence are relatives of the girl, Babli. They include her brother Suresh, cousins Gurdev and Satish, uncles Baru Ram and Rajender.

The khap panchayat (local village administration) leader Ganga Ram got life sentence while the driver, who was held guilty of kidnapping, was given a jail term of seven years.

Manoj's sister Seema said that though she was happy with the verdict and the sentencing but wanted even Ganga Ram to be given the death penalty.

"I am very happy but the life sentence to Ganga Ram is not justified. Even he should have been given death penalty," Seema said.

"We have asked the High Court for security cover. As of now there is a lot of police in the village. The decision of the panchayat was not justified and people should not be allowed to misuse their power," she added.

Seema and her family are going to appeal for death penalty to Ganga Ram in the High Court.

Meanwhile, Public prosecutor Lal Bahadur has welcomed the decision.

"Out of the seven accused, five have been given death sentence. One has been given life sentence and one has been given years of imprisonment. One hundred thousand rupees as compensation have been ordered by the court to be given to victims' families," said Bahadur.

"This is a very good decision. We welcome the decision. This is a strong message to the public and this is a message to the khap panchayat," Bahadur added.

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