The news of the murder of a young woman by her parents for marrying a man of her choice is not just shocking, it's absolutely appalling. Three days after Bhawna Yadav, a 21-year-old Delhi University student, married her boyfriend Abhishek Seth, her parents strangled her to death for marrying outside her caste. Bhawna's parents have confessed to the crime. I really hope and pray that the police will fast-track the case and the courts will give them stiff punishment.
Despite economic growth and rise in educational levels, incidents like these continue unabated in India, especially in the northern part. A couple of years ago, shocked by the growing cult of 'honour killings' by family members of young couples and the death 'warrants' that are issued by extra constitutional bodies like khap panchayats (KP), the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and the state governments seeking response from them as to why they have not been able to curb such killings. Did the governments respond? I don't know, but even they had, I am pretty sure it would be something like: "My Lord, we are looking at the phenomenon and trying our best to curb it".
Our politicians have often spoken out against honour killings, especially by those ordered by khap panchayats, but when it comes to taking strong action against these KPs they will never go the extra mile. The reason is obvious: KPs control huge vote banks.
There is one more reason why cases of "honour" crimes continue to thrive: Culprits go unpunished and the slow justice delivery system contributes to the growing impunity with which relatives and parents kill young people, who want to exercise their choice in relationships and marriage. "The entire system is consumed by patriarchal mindset and colludes. In this situation it is criminal and callous of the central government not to pass the very important Bill against "honour" crime to address this problem," said Malini Bhattacharya of the All India Democratic Women's Association.
There is no room for any more delay in bringing legislation against honour killing. In 2010, the then UPA government, promised to come out with a law and readied a draft (you read the PDF document here ). But it did not manage to do so. The new government must take it up without delay; it's as urgent as any other programme.