A study commissioned by the National Commission for Women (NCW) has found that more honour killing cases were due to inter-caste marriages and in 89% cases the perpetrators of the crimes belonged to the girl’s family. The study was conducted by Shakti Vahini, an NGO that has petitioned Supreme Court seeking directions for preventive measures on honour killing. It was found that even though khap panchayats had been agitating and mobilising over the gotra issue, more violence/ honour killing cases were related to inter-caste marriages. Opposition to inter-caste marriages was rampant across all strata of society. The reaction to inter-caste marriages was more stronger and violent when the girl married a Dalit or a lower caste boy, resulting in gruesome crime. The reaction was less violent if the boy belonged to a higher caste.
The role of law enforcement agencies, especially police, was found to be very dismal. About 81% of the 300 policemen surveyed agreed that khap panchayats were raising right issues and 62% said they would react strongly to inter-caste marriages in their own families. Of the 600 persons (fromrural and urban areas) interviewed, 46% said khaps were raising right issues, 54% agreed they would react strongly to love marriages in their family and 92% disapproved honour killings. The NGO said raising the gotra issue as a campaign had helped khaps get mass support and khap panchayat members were exploiting it to consolidate power. The areas affected by community panchayats and honour killings also had the worse sex ratio. The survey studied 560 cases where couples were threatened. Also 600 people and 300 policemen were interviewed in Haryana, Punjab and western UP, where most honour killings had been reported and where khap panchayats were active. “The crime is heinous in rural areas where there had been instances of beheading. Drastic steps were taken by parents in rural areas due to glorification of khap diktats and low education levels. In cities, parents used pressure, beating and other influence to threaten couples, since people are aware that killing could lead them to jail,” Ravi Kant of Shakti Vahini said.