Manoj and Babli
A love that would seem innocent to most was sacrilege in Manoj and Babli‘s home town. Their forbidden romance lead to rebellion, and their marriage lead to disaster that made honour killing case history.
Babli and Manoj grew-up together in Kaithal in a Karora village. Manoj owned an electronics repair shop, and Babli was in school. In 2005, they started seeing each other. “We knew about Babli long before they decided to marry each other. She would call up often and I would sermonize to her about staying away from Manoj, fearing the fallout of such an alliance. They were, however, unconcerned and chatted for hours together. If I did walk into the room while they were talking, Manoj would quickly disconnect the phone and run off to avoid any questioning,” Manoj’s mother, Chanderpati, recollected. “I even went to Babli’s house and told her mother that Manoj and Babli were seeing each other. I asked her to dissuade Babli or quickly marry them before the word spread.”
The young couple was taboo because the khap panchayat, a religious and caste-based council, prohibited marriage against societal norms. Manoj and Babli were not related, but since they were both of Banwala gotra, a Jaat community, they were considered siblings. The couple ran away and eloped, causing outrage with Babli’s relatives. Ompati, Babli’s mother, tried to persuade her family that her daughter did nothing wrong, but they insisted that the khap panchayat intervene. They claimed Babli was kidnapped and forced to marry Manoj and demanded the marriage be annulled. The khap panchayat ordered that they be executed.
Babli had to testify in court that she ran away with Manoj and married him willingly. On their bus ride home from the court hearing, the couple’s police escorts abandoned them. Babli’s relatives hijacked the bus and abducted the newlyweds. Manoj and Balbi were beaten by Babli’s uncles, cousins and brother. Balbi’s brother forced her to drink pesticide, while her uncle strangled Manoj to death with a noose. Their bodies were found Barwala Link Canal, identified and cremated nine days later.
The trial following this honour killing was long and hostile. The defense even claimed that Babli and Manoj may still be alive, despite heavy evidence to the contrary. After 33 months, 50 court hearings and 41 witnesses the five family members who committed the double murder were sentenced to death. This was the first time in Haryana state history that such a verdict was made for an honour killing. Six police officers were also accused of negligence. Ganga Raj, the khap panchayat leader and Babli’s grandfather, was only given a life sentence.
Chanderpati still fights for Ganga Raj to get the death penalty, and she stands-up for her deceased son and daughter-in-law in spite of threats from her community. “Our fight has not ended here,” the mourning mother stated. “The verdict has done justice to my son’s death, but it has not changed the way the village works…I am fighting but my son died only because the girl’s male relatives could kill their own sister. Families allow themselves to be instigated. As long as men can kill their own daughters, what change will there be?”
The Earth is born of Love. Born into Love.
Where the sun sets and the seas rise for Love.
Where the heart beats and the being breathes for Love.
Where the soul knows who had been allied for its Love.
But man sets the love laws,
Binding this Love, chaining this Love.
Punishing this Love.
Laying down with a stick on the sand
Rules for this Love.
But the Earth,
The stick and the sand,
These men and these women,
Were created from Love.
Their hate took away innocent life that just wanted to Love,
But their Love is far glorious,
Than their fathers or brothers could comprehend.
Today, the Earth shall sing of their Love,
The seas shall rise for their Love,
Hearts shall be strengthened with their Love.
Love cannot be binded by men’s rules.
Love was born free.
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