Bringing some relief to runaway couples, the Haryana government has set up temporary shelters to save them from being targeted by relatives and community leaders opposed to their marriage.
The shelters have been set up in the police lines of every district under the watch of the area superintendents (SPs). An electronic register has also been created to help the officers monitor house matters and to share the details with the Director General of Police (Law and Order).
"We protect couples from the immediate threat... Once the heat ends, we let them go anywhere they want," says DGP, Vikash Narain Rai. The government believes it is a step which will help to bring down cases of honour killings in Haryana.
In the past, many young men and women have been hunted down and killed in community revenge for defying the caste laws of marriage. In the dominant jat community of north India, marriage between men and women belonging to the same gotra (or sub caste) is considered incestuous. Such cases are invariably brought to the community courts, or khap panchayats, for summary trial and punishment. "Mainly, couples from the same village are the targets," says Rai.
Recently, a panchayat in Rohtak district had forced a couple to break the marriage and live as 'brother and sister'.
Earlier, a mob lynched a man in Jind district because he went against his family and married a girl of the same gotra. In another case, a couple from Kaithal district was brought back to the village and killed by members of the girl's family.