Panchayat seeks death for Haryana couple for eloping

March 21st, 2009 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, March 20 (IANS) A Khap panchayat (caste-based village council) in Haryana has sought death for a young couple who eloped recently as they belonged to the same caste.
The caste panchayat of Banawala in Jind district, over 200 km from here, has decreed that the couple who eloped, Sonia and Ved Pal, were related under Jat caste norms and had violated the centuries old convention of not getting into a liaison within the same caste, Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Jat Mahasabha president Paramjit Banawala has said.

The panchayat has ordered that the couple be hunted down and killed for bringing dishonour to their families and community. The decree was decided at a meeting in a village Thursday night.

The couple, according to sources in Jind district administration and police, had gone underground after eloping and feared for their lives following the caste panchayat decree against them. They had eloped March 10 after realising that their families would not agree to their marriage.

Families of the couple first approached the police after the duo went missing but later chose to approach the caste panchayat to resolve the issue.

Paramjit Banawala, who is said to have organised the caste panchayat, told reporters at the village that “Jat honour is supreme and would be preserved at all costs”.

Even though the police know about the illegal death decree against the couple, they have chosen to keep quiet on the issue given the domination of the powerful Jat community in state politics, especially with parliamentary elections around the corner.

Jind Superintendent of Police Satish Balan said that “no one would be allowed to act contrary to law.”

“We will protect the girl and boy if they approach us,” Balan said in Jind.

Caste panchayats in Haryana are notorious among the Jat community for functioning as extra-constitutional authorities and even issuing death decress for committing any crime against the community.

In the past also, couples and families have been killed and assaulted by such extra-constitutional authorities. One such couple, Manoj and Babli, was killed two years ago in Haryana.

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