Young and defiant boys and girls in Haryana end up losing their life over the families’ sense of ‘honour’. A feudal mindset is pitted against the youth that is embracing modernity, and love. Education, separate legislation for such killings and banning Khaps are what some experts pin their hopes on.
The gates of the temple at the entrance of Garnawati village in Rohtak are shut. Even at 10 AM, God has been locked in. He seems to be at the mercy of village residents, as were Nidhi Barak and Dharmender Barak on the fateful evening of Sept 18, 2013 when they were hacked as the sun went down.
Nobody even winced, let alone come forward to save the couple from the hands of rage-driven Narender, alias Billu, who executed the cold-blooded murders in his courtyard. He dismembered the bodies of his only daughter Nidhi and her beau Dharmender for the most ‘heinous’ of all crimes — falling in love.
Their audacity was more pronounced since the two belonged to the same village and shared the same ‘gotra’ of the Jat Commu. They had put their love before family honour, which was, of course, unpardonable.
As dusk descended and darkness deepened that evening, ‘honour’ left the village, draped in a dishonourable shroud. It took the red hue from the blood on the family’s hands. It stole the crackle from the fires that lapped up Nidhi and Dharmender’s pyres. It also became the silence of the villagers.
Fear did not give birth to this silence that sewed up every mouth in the village. Neither did ignorance of what had transpired. It was the eerie silence of quiet acceptance that screamed that archaic beliefs of a regressive society carried more weight; were thicker than blood and far superior than a couple of human lives; that the social rules of the village were sacrosanct and anybody who messed with them would meet the same fate — Ultimate Death.
Less than a week after the couple’s senseless murder in Rohtak, Sat Narayan, belonging to the SC community and a resident of Bhapoli village in Panipat, allegedly murdered his 19-year-old daughter Meenakshi in the name of honour. She was killed and hurriedly cremated on the banks of the Yamuna for daring to marry a boy from the Gujjar community against her parents’ wishes.
While their paths may have never crossed and they lived oblivious of each other, Nidhi and Meenakshi met the same fate at the hands of a family that should have stood by them. Their barbaric killing, once again, brought the spotlight on the stagnant near-fanatic mindset of a closed society with no qualms and regrets about murder. Only the blood of their own can wash away the stain and stigma of dishonour, or so they think. The dust of dead customs, however, still clings to them.