‘Honour killers’ sentenced to death
New Delhi - Eight men have been sentenced to death and 27 others to life in prison for a so-called honour killing in northern India 20 years ago, news reports said on Thursday.
The defendants sentenced on Wednesday were mostly members of a village council in Uttar Pradesh that ordered the hanging of a young man from the Dalit caste and a woman from the higher Jat caste who had eloped, the Times of India newspaper reported.
They also murdered the man's cousin for helping the couple.
Marriages between people of different castes, religions or within certain kinship groups are still frowned upon in large parts of rural India. Activists say scores of men and women are ostracised or killed every year for defying the segregation traditions.
On March 21, 1991, Vijendra Jatav, 22, eloped with Roshni, 19, from Mehrana village. Three days later, they returned, hoping the outrage would have died down.
But the next day, a village council ordered them to be publicly hanged, together with Jatav's cousin Ram Kishan.
In a complaint filed with the local police, Ram Kishan's uncle Amir Chand alleged the couple were brutally assaulted during the hearing and their private parts set on fire.
Jatav reportedly said he would accept exile from the village, but the elders refused to relent.
Most of the men who were convicted were over 60 years old, and one was 95. Fifteen of the 54 accused in the case died during the trial, one was acquitted while three who were minors at the time, including the girl's brother, were being tried by a separate juvenile court.
There is no composite data on such killings in India as records do not distinguish them from other forms of murder, but such incidents are frequently reported.
In May 2011, India's Supreme Court recommended the death penalty for those convicted of committing “honour killings.” Capital punishment is handed down only in very rare cases in India. - Sapa-dpa