Basant alias 'Bunty' and his lover, Sarita Rani, were once married as per Arya Samaj traditions.
However, age-old traditions censuring same-gotra marriages brought an end to their wedlock. Since both belonged to the same gotra, Tomar, they were separated forcibly by those opposing the same-gotra marriages.
Gorar, 25 km from Sonepat city, is primarily a Jat-dominated village where people of the Tomar gotra are in majority. The natives, who had forced Basant and Sarita to 'annul' the wedlock, are now repenting.
Basant's father Rajbir Singh, a retired army personnel, said: "We never thought that this would happen. Our son was timid. We could never imagine in our wildest of dreams that one day he would end up languishing in jail for three murders."
Singh said co-villagers were pressuring the family to end the wedlock after Basant eloped with Sarita in the first week of February. Intra-village and same-gotra marriages are a taboo in Haryana villages. There is a belief that residents of the same village and belonging to the same gotra consider themselves brothers and sisters.
Basant's elder brother Pawan Kumar, who is a constable in the Delhi Police, said: "We don't know when both (Basant and Sarita) started seeing each other. Maybe it happened in 2010, when Basant was undergoing training in the army."
Basant ran away with Sarita in February, Pawan said, adding that villagers started creating pressure on them to end the marriage to save the 'honuor' of the village. "We had no choice but to persuade Basant to leave Sarita for the family's sake."
Raj Kumar Tomar, who is Basant's childhood friend, said: "Both he and Sarita married in a Arya Samaj temple in Sonepat and started living at an undisclosed place. They severed contact with everybody expect Omvir alias Gobinda of our village."
When villagers confronted Omvir, he revealed their location. On being found, Basant left for Chandigarh, while Sarita was taken to Bhainsuru village of Rohtak district. Two months later, Sarita's maternal uncle married her off to Sandeep Kumar of Deepalpur village.
One of the elders, sitting at a 'chaupal' in the village, said: "Bhai, humnay nahi berra thaa essa kaam bhi ho jaagay. Nahi taa, hum unki shaadi nahi tudwayo (We did not realise that ending their marriage would lead to such a situation else we would not have terminated their wedlock). "That does not mean we would have allowed them to live as a couple in the village," another elder said.