A day after a Karnal sessions court, in a historic verdict, gave the death penalty to five persons who murdered a newly-wed couple to protect their community’s ‘honour’, the widowed mother of one of the victims told HT that she wanted action against elected representatives and officials who did not help her in her lonely quest for justice.
Manoj (23) and Babli (19), who married against the wishes of Babli’s family, were ostensibly under police protection in June 2007 when they were dragged out of a bus and murdered by her family members.
Though happy with the verdict, Manoj’s mother, Chanderpati, said she and her younger daughter Rekha were living in isolation at their home in Karora village, about 35 km from district headquarters Kaithal, with no support from relatives, villagers or the administration.
“We have been ostracised by society for more than two years. Two of my family members were killed while under official police protection, but the authorities never approached us to listen to our grievances that were made public by the media,” she said, adding that the khap (clan) leaders — who had declared Manoj and Babli “brother and sister” — rubbed shoulders with politicians.
“The police too refrained from touching people like Ganga Raj (leader of the Banawala khap, a self-styled panchayat with no legal jurisdiction, who was given a life sentence for hatching a conspiracy to kill the couple) just to side with the politicians,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Though police personnel have been deployed at the family’s house, Chanderpati has little confidence in the force.
She asked Kaithal DSP Jagbir Singh, who was at the house when HT visited her, to step up security.
“With punishments given to the culprits, we feel a graver threat to our lives,” she told Singh. “In such circumstances we need better security arrangements.”
The social pressure continues: some villagers have allegedly warned farmers not to hire the family’s land.