Six days after the Supreme Court sentenced five people to death in an honour killing case, a panchayat in Khekra town in Baghpat district on Sunday allegedly pronounced a sentence of death for a couple and directed the villagers to “socially boycott” them.
Zameel, father of four children, fell in love with a girl from his neighbourhood in Nalapar colony of Khekra town, 40 km from Delhi. The two eloped 20 days ago.
Enraged at this, the girl’s father lodged a kidnapping case against Zameel and three of his relatives at the Khekra police station with a request to recover his daughter and send Zameel behind bars.
While the police was looking for the couple, Zameel and the other accused got a stay order from the High Court on their arrest.
Piqued at this and upset that their daughter had run away with a man, the girl’s family quit the village and went into hiding.
Meanwhile, on March 23, Zameel and the girl returned to the village and announced that they had got married in Delhi.
The couple also presented a Nikahnama to prove their marriage. This, however, raised eyebrows and an “all caste”
panchayat was convened to discuss the matter. The couple was asked to remain in an adjacent room while the panchayat debated their fate.
Local sources say that after extended deliberations, the panchayat unanimously decided to “socially boycott” the two and asked them to leave the village at once. The panchayat also warned them that if they returned to the village, they would be executed.
The police, however, denied that the panchayat had passed any “death order” for the couple. “They (the panchayat) handed out a decision of social boycott, not a death sentence,” said Mahendra Pal Singh, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Baghpat.
He added that a delegation of villagers had given a representation to police explaining that no death sentence had been issued by the panchayat.
Local sources, however, say that villagers “did this on the advice of the police” only to defuse its severity in wake of the recent decision of the Apex Court in an honour killing case.