Let me narrate a real life incident that happened few days ago at a place in India, few miles from my town.
A 22 year old student, Shankar, studying in final year for an Engineering course fell in love with Kausalya, a junior girl student of the same college. They got themselves married about 8 months ago. She took some time off from studies to take a job so that she can support her husband in his last year.
One day they went out shopping and were attacked by a group of unknown assailants with lethal weapons. He was brutally murdered in broad day light while she escaped with serious injuries.
Why were they attacked and why was he killed?
In India it was a rare, almost blasphemous marriage. He was a Dalit, formerly called untouchable, from a family in the lowermost rung of caste or social hierarchy. She came from a family much above in the caste ladder. As per the custom in Indian society from time immemorial, a person should marry from his or her own caste. Dalits are considered as “sinned” souls and a marital relationship with such a family is unimaginable.
Her family vociferously opposed the marriage. They went to get legal help, but as she was above 18 years, a major as per Indian law, she was allowed to do as per her wishes.
Though the legal system, under the 65 year old liberal modern looking Indian constitution allowed love to rule, the society, still ruled by thousands of years of Hindu traditions, refused to accept it.
Her father it seems has asked some of his friends to kill his son in law and daughter, so that he can escape the ignominy of having a Dalit son in law and a grandchild with Dalit blood. The legal system may punish the culprits, but the sad fact is that the casteist Indian society at large will condone their crime.
India might be the most populous democracy in the world , but it still deny basic human rights , not by law but by custom, to large sections of its own population.
Picture courtesy The Indian Express