A court in Karnal on Thursday held six men guilty of murdering a young couple for marrying within their 'gotra' in a chilling case that rocked Haryana in 2007.
The conviction was pronounced by Additional District and Sessions Judge Vani Gopal Sharma. The judge convicted a seventh man, a driver, for kidnapping.
The sentence will be announced on March 29.
Manoj, 23, who ran an electronics repair shop at Kaithal, married Babli, 19, resident of Karoran village, against the wishes of the girl's family.
They eloped in May 2007 and were murdered the next month.
The girl's family was furious that the couple had married despite belonging to the same 'gotra' (sub-caste). The family called the marriage a shame.
Sensing threat to their lives, the couple approached police, which produced them before a Kaithal court June 15, 2007. The court had directed the police to provide them security.
According to the police, the girl's relatives dragged the couple out of a Karnal-bound bus in June 2007. Thereafter, the newsly weds were brutally murdered and their bodies thrown into an irrigation canal.
The six who were held guilty of murder included five relatives of Babli, the young wife.
They included her brother Suresh, cousins Gurdev and Satish, uncles Baru Ram and Rajender, as well as an influential man of her village, Ganga Raj, who also headed the so-called 'khap panchayat' that vetoed the marriage.
Mandeep Singh, the driver, was convicted for kidnapping the couple, said the police.
In 2007, Haryana Police head constable Jayendra Singh, one of those assigned to protect Manoj and Babli, was found guilty of disclosing the couple's whereabouts to the girl's family. But he did not face a trial.
Kaithal police chief Sandeep Khirwar told IANS: "I remember that a departmental inquiry was conducted against the guilty policemen. Police must have taken appropriate action against them."