London: More than 1,000 young people in
India have been done to death every year owing to `Caste
Killings` linked to forced marriages and the country needs to
introduce stringent legislation to deal firmly with the
heinous crime, two legal experts have claimed.
Participating in International Child Abduction, Relocation
and Forced Marriages Conference organised by the London
Metropolitan University here, Chandigarh-based legal experts
Anil Malhotra and his brother Ranjit Malhotra have said that
in traditional societies, caste killings are basically
`justified` as a sanction for `dishonourable` behaviour.
In a joint paper, they said: "Forced marriages and caste killings are often intertwined. Marriage can be forced to save
honour, and women can be murdered for rejecting a forced
marriage and marrying a partner of their own choice who is not
acceptable for the family of the girl.”
They said in India, caste killings happen with regularity
in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.
"They happen not only within the Muslim community but also
among Sikhs and Hindus."
Though there was no nationwide data on the prevalence of
caste killings in India, they quoted figures compiled by the
India Democratic Women`s Association, according to which
Haryana, Punjab and UP account for about 900 caste killings
and another 100 to 300 in the rest of the country.
"The total figure for India would be about the same as
estimated for Pakistan, which researchers suggest has the
highest per capita incidence of caste killings in the world."
They said the Ministries of Home Affairs and the Law and
Justice are preparing to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to
define the act of "caste killing".
The demand for such a law was made repeatedly with the
objective of stamping out this social evil.
"This aim is to provide for deterrent punishment for caste
and community panchayats which should be booked for aiding and
abetting such killings and as accomplices to the murder," they
They pointed out that the Supreme Court of India,
concerned over the spate of recent `Caste Killings` has asked
the Centre and eight state governments to submit reports on
the steps taken to prevent this barbaric practice.
The Malhotra brothers were the only representatives from
India at the three-day Conference attended by International
Family Law Experts from all over the world.
Noting that the issue has acquired alarming proportions in
India and abroad, Ranjit Malhotra said while the Indian
Government is still mulling a harsh penal law to penalise
`horror killing`, the UK has made forced marriages a civil
"Be it forced marriages or horror killing, the social
dimensions and implications are the same. The larger issue is
their resolution. Whether it is societal or legal, is a
question which will baffle legal experts, legislators and the
people who practice these heinous crimes," he said.
Ranjit Malhotra, the first Indian Lawyer to be awarded the
prestigious Felix Scholarship for the LLM degree at SOAS (The
School of Oriental & African Studies), University of London,
said "forced and early marriages entrap women and young girls
in relationships that deprive them of their basic human
Comparing the legal framework adopted by various countries
shows that a coordinated approach is necessary so as to
effectively combat the problem of forced marriages, Ranjit
He said, "It is the State`s and the society`s
responsibility to protect the human rights of its young
citizens, to avoid forced marriages, to create possibilities
and opportunities for the people concerned to break free and
to find protection, support and aid.
"Education of the young women and men as well as their
parents is just as much necessary as a broad concept to
empower the young people concerned with the problem.
In a separate paper on "Inter-Country Parental Child
Removal and the Law", Anil Malhotra looked at the Indian
position of `Inter-Parental Child Abduction" rampantly
practised in the 30 million non-resident Indian community
living in 130 countries abroad.
"The malaise is further complicated by the grim reality
that India is not a signatory to the International Hague
Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction,
1980, which has been signed by 76 countries but India not
being a party, children removed to and from india find no
return," he said.