Sunday, March 13, 2011

[ZESTCaste] ‘Honour killing': court raps police, orders disciplinary action

CHANDIGARH, March 13, 2011
'Honour killing': court raps police, orders disciplinary action
Vrinda Sharma
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered disciplinary action
against the police officials in charge of providing protection to
Manoj and Babli, who were killed by her relatives for marrying in the
same gotra in 2007, for 'virtually landing them in a death trap.'
While the Punjab and Haryana High Court commuted the session's court
verdict on Friday and acquitted Satish and Ganga Raj, the prime
accused, Gurdev Singh, Suresh Kumar, Rajinder Singh and Baru Ram have
been sentenced to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment without remissions.
The seven-year jail sentence of another convict, Mandeep Singh, who
drove the car in which the couple were carried to the canal, has been
maintained by the Division Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Mittal and M

Manoj (23) had married Babli (19) of Karora village in Kaithal
district, against the wishes of their panchayat on April 7, 2007. Soon
the entire village had turned against Manoj's family as the couple
belonged to the same gotra. On June 15, 2007, on the orders of the
khap, they were brutally abducted despite police protection, brutally
killed and their bodies were thrown into a canal.

The Bench said there was no direct evidence that Gurdev Singh, Suresh
Kumar, Rajinder Singh and Baru Ram had committed the murders. "Even in
the 21st century, such a shameful act of hollow honour killing is
perpetrated in our society. It is a slur on the fine fabric of Indian
society. Abduction is really cruel and that too the murder of the
abductees is barbaric. Our conscience does not permit us to confer
death sentences to Gurdev, Suresh, Rajinder and Baru Ram," reads the
order. However the manner in which the couple were provided protection
was held as the main reason behind their unfortunate killing. "We find
that the investigating agency, in such a sensational case, bungled at
each and every stage. Firstly, SI Jagbir Singh, who perceived a threat
to the lives of Manoj and Babli, should not have withdrawn
security…Till their departure from Pipli, there was a real threat to
their lives from the family of Babli. Very strangely, SI Jagbir Singh
obtained some statement from Manoj and Babli and virtually landed them
in a death trap…"

While condemning 'the shameful act of hollow honour killings' the
court, in its 48-page judgment, gave directions to the Haryana DGP to
initiate disciplinary proceedings against SI Jagbir Singh, SI Dharam
Pal and Inspector Subhash. "We are constrained to infer that, in fact,
the police officials were hand in glove with the accused party. We
find that they did not evince any interest, as warranted in this case,
to collect material against the accused…Quite unfortunately, novices
in the investigating field were employed to detect the shocking crime
for reasons best known to the police." Satish was acquitted as the
prosecution failed to establish that Satish was the son of Babli's
maternal uncle and nothing was recovered from Satish's possessions.
Ganga Raj, who has been alleged as the main conspirator of the
killing, was acquitted as there was no evidence to prove that he was
present at the crime scene.

The judgment chides the police. "Had the police woken up from its deep
slumber, they would have saved the precious life of the innocent young
couple. We are constrained to infer that in fact, police officials had
been hand-in-glove with the accused and provided loopholes at each and
every stage of investigation. They have not evinced any interest as
warranted in the case to collect telling materials."

Advocate R.S. Bains, counsel for Manoj's mother Chandrapati, said he
will file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict. He added
that Manoj's mother and sister, who had raised their voice against
khap panchayats, need police protection.


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