Women's rights activists today demanded that a stringent law be enacted to check the sudden spurt in cases of honour killings in the country.
"It is a conspiracy of silence. The central government should form a stringent law to punish the people involved in the brutal killings," said Kiran Bedi, the country's first woman IPS officer.
Speaking at a discussion on 'Honour killing or violation of Legal and Human Rights?' here, Bedi stressed on the need for government bodies, judiciary, police, media and the masses to work in tandem to eradicate the evil.
The former top cop suggested that a national study be conducted on honour killings by organisations like the Bureau of Police Research and Development or National Commission for Women or the National Human Rights Commission.
"These cases cut across cultures, communities and backgrounds. Parents, siblings and villagers are opting to eliminate their sons and daughters who choose to marry a person of their choice. There should be a separate law on honour killings and not by amending any section of the Indian Penal Code(IPC)," said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research.
There has been a sudden rise in the incidents of honour killings in parts of north India with young adults being killed for marrying against their family's wishes.
The union cabinet has formed a ministerial panel to seek suggestions on how to deal with the issue.
The Group of Ministers(GoM) will submit its recommendations after getting inputs from states in the next three-four weeks so that a bill designed to deter "honour killings" can be introduced in parliament during the monsoon session beginning July 26.
Emphasising on the need to hold country-wide discussion on the issue, Zohra Chaterjee, member secretary of National Commission for Women, said: "Some parents educate their daughters to raise the bride price and not to empower them. Orders are laid down by her family and if the girl dares to defy them, there is trouble."
Rashmi Singh, director of Mission Convergence, an initiative by the Delhi government to bridge various welfare entitlement schemes and services, said: "The honour killings are taking place as if we are living in the medieval times."
"Honour killing is a symptom but we have to attack the roots, which is the caste-based divisive politics," she added.
The women rights activists also agreed to hold a rally and submit a memorandum to the prime minister and president asking them to take immediate steps against the cruel practice.