The brutal murder of seven members of a family by a girl with help from her lover has evoked outrage in Haryana’s orthodox Kaboolpur village.
Sonam Dagar, 19, allegedly killed her grandmother Bhoori (62), father Surinder (40), mother Promila (38) and brother Arvind (16), besides cousins Vishal (8) Monica (10) and Sonika (13), on Monday evening. She allegedly laced the food she served them with a sedative and later strangled them with the help of her 19-year-old boyfriend Naveen Dagar.
A Rohtak court on Sunday remanded the duo to police custody for three days.
The murders in Rohtak district, 70 kilometres west of Delhi come weeks after a man was lynched in Haryana’s Jind district on July 22 after a Khap panchayat — a self-styled council of judges from the clan — issued an order to kill him for marrying a girl in the same gotra (sub-caste).
The rationale for the gotra diktat: if you have the same ancestor—historical or mythical— the relationship is incestuous.
At least five other people have died in suspected cases of honour killing related to same-gotra relationships in the region since August this year.
On Saturday, Rohtak Senior Superintendent of Police A.K. Rao said Sonam and Naveen had confessed to the crime.
Police said Naveen bought sedatives from a village shop and Sonam served food mixed with sedatives to her family members on Monday evening.
When the victims fell unconscious, Sonam called Naveen to her house and they carried out the murders.
Sonam is a first-year student of Humanities at Neki Ram Sharma Government College Rohtak. Naveen was pursuing a computer course at a private institute in the city.
Sonam’s uncle Bhupender, 34, whose three children were among the seven victims killed, said that the duo should be hanged to death.
Village elder Dilbag Singh, 62, was of the opinion that Sonam and Naveen deserved the harshest punishment. “The duo should be hanged at a public place. Social norms don’t permit such relations between a girl and a boy of the same village.”
Haryana Dhankar Sabha president O P Dhankar said, “Khap panchayats are not to blame for such incidents. Marriages within a gotra or village have never been accepted in this region, and cannot be condoned.”
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Raj Kumar Sharma, however, blamed the recent spate of honour killings for the incident. He said, “The accused committed the crime believing they would meet the same fate as other couples who had fallen victim to khap (clan) diktats on family honour.”