Young Couple Killed for Marrying in the Same 'Gotra'

July 05, 2007

This was not incest. But because there is a feeling that a boy and girl of the same gotra (similar to caste) could be blood relatives, they were killed after they were married. Does this ring a bell? In a shocking, nay, horrendous event depicting the callousness of life in rural India, a couple was killed after they had legally got married and had returned to their village.

Residents of a Haryana village defended the murder of a couple for marrying within the familial gotra. "Humne theek kiya (we did right)," the accused said as villagers proclaimed before TV crews that the killings would be a deterrent to coming generations not to marry in the same gotra.

Babli and Manoj ran away from their village on April 6 and went to Chandigarh and applied for a registered marriage on May 31. Armed with a court order that provided them "protection", the couple came back to their village, knowing little what was in store.

The village, indeed their own relatives were the ones most involved in this horror. In this age, a couple, who are not direct blood relatives are killed most brutally for letting their most base of impulses, a love for each other decide their course of actions.

It is a matter of great disgrace that such things happen in this country. When we hear of honour killings happening in Islamic societies, it fills me with a great repugnance. And yet, the same things happen in this country of ours. Caste panchayats order people to be killed because a couple married each other since they were of different castes. It is also a reflection of the value held to women in rural areas. They need to follow the diktat of their elders, or else...

We need to change this culture. How can we do it? Getting proper education to the villages that explains the value of life, liberty and the rights of the individual. But whom am I kidding? In villages, when schools are ramshackle single room sets and most teachers play truant, such an understanding is very difficult to bring about.

The other major problem is the concept of law and order. Symbols of state authority are present in most places of this country, but they do not do what should be done. It is their fundamental duty to propagate the Constitution and its ideals, chief of which is the rights of an individual, which encompasses the right of an individual to marry whosoever he / she likes (subject to a few constraints such as explicit familial links).

Ashish is a blogger who got bit by the blogging charm a few months back, and it has hit him good. He is able to express himself through his blogs. Currently working with a software manufacturing company in NCR, India. Did a BE and then an MBA and has been working for around 9 years now. Is pretty passionate about current affairs, but did not have a vehicle to express his opinions till now. I primarily blog at Modern Indian Man, also write about Delhi, Tech News, and Photos 1 & 2
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July 5, 2007
12:45 AM


July 5, 2007
12:45 AM

Okay, so if Gotra is similar to caste, then it amounts to saying that you cannot marry within your caste. So we're talking about a caste system that requires you to marry outside your caste?

I find that words like caste, jati, gotra, community, etc are just thrown around liberally, interchangeably, and ultimately in a way that makes them meaningless. These then certainly bear no theological resemblance to varna.

So it just shows how chaotic the terminology and terms of reference have become.

B Shantanu
July 5, 2007
01:19 AM

Ashish: Good post but it left me searching for answers...You have identified several "problems": female illiteracy, education and a failing law and order machinery. How do we fix them though?
I suspect the roots lie at the very heart of the political establishment and the rot that has set in. Any ideas on "fixing" that?

Sanjay: Good point. You may find this article interesting:

July 5, 2007
01:48 AM

Sometimes, village justice must be countered with village justice. If murdering an innocent couple is justice to the villagers, then we must hang a few of the villagers and tell them "there are different kinds of justice, yours is just one!"

July 5, 2007
01:49 PM

It is difficult to find solutions for all these problems right away, but there are possible routes.

1. Illiteracy has to be eliminated by accountability. We spend a massive amount of money on education for all, and yet the state of schools in villages is deplorable. Need more accountability for money.
2. Need to ensure that symbols representing the state are good representatives. As an imperfect example, when there are reports of such incidents, police action needs to be quick.
3. Law and order machinery has to be made independent of political interference, as the SC is attempting

July 5, 2007
02:01 PM

ashish... many of these people are NOT illiterate. it is not a question of teaching people to read and write. it is a question of age old traditions that anyone is going to have a hell of a time trying to go against.

Come on... how many extremely literate and educated ppl do you know that still hold ridiculous thoughts? My mother-in-law was a science teacher in a major city and is very educated and yet STILL believes that if I had gone outside during an eclipse that my pregnancy would have been doomed.

Sanjay Garg
July 5, 2007
03:59 PM

Needless to say, the perpetrators and those who abetted them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

There are numerous, same-gotra marriages taking place all over India without any problems and in the rare event that some goons commit a crime in the name of same-gotra marriage, it should not be used as an excuse to "change the culture".

In general, gotra denotes a descent from a male line and many hindu communities allow same-gotra marriages if there is a demonstrable "seven degrees of separation" between the bride and groom. The more close-knit a community, the greater the chance that all members of the community are closely related to each other.

Another thing that typically happens in Haryana is same-family adoptions - particularly of sons - to ensure a male heir who can inherit the family farm. It is not inconceivable that the bride/ groom really were blood relatives but only the village elders would have known about it.

The very fact that the couple eloped to get married indicates their awareness that they were perhaps doing something very contrary to the rules of the village. It is a tragedy that they decided to return to the village. Should have stayed away and lived happily ever after.

Man singh
July 5, 2007
07:30 PM

why it is pathetic? It is shameful on those who call themselves educated?

This educated class of Indians is like parasite. This class gobble up all resources of the country and never give back to scoeuty anything.

rather this class strats hating weak n poor sections of society.

If one educated Indians might have educated one fellow illetral Indian, I am pretty sure this type of supestitions might have been eliminated by this time.

Still its not too late. let's start the process today.

please visit to find an opportunity to invilve in such a noble task of nation building.


July 6, 2007
01:11 AM

smallsquirrel, #6
They would have been semi-literate. Granted that literacy is a 100% solution, but it would have helped.
I also understand about holding ridiculous concepts, but they would not have extended to killing somebody. Honor killings do happen among educated people as well, unfortunately.

July 6, 2007
02:44 AM

Ashish... OK, I buy that. I just wanted to make the point that it's not always the illiterate poor doing stupid crap. And that villagers are not always illiterate.

And, hmmm.... I think we'd like to THINK that educated people would not resort to extreme measures and do something horrific, but it happens every day. You pointed out the best example... honor killings.

S Ramakrishnan
July 8, 2007
12:00 AM

Please check out my post on my rediff blog that explains why the Gotra system is unscientific to begin with -

July 8, 2007
03:40 AM

Just to continue from #10, one good example even from honor killings is:
Mostly, if you are educated, you are horrified at honor killing; if you semi-literate, you can justify honor killings to protect tradition. Now, this will not be true 100% of the time, but will be true most of the time.

July 8, 2007
04:30 AM

ashish... actually what you are saying is not true. honor killings take place in very respected and educated families all over the world, in countries with high literacy rates.

July 8, 2007
08:18 AM

Could you give me some examples ? For example, if you tell me about a Muslim family in Sweden or Finland killing their daughter, I would argue that education has not yet managed to overcome the tradition that lead to the killing

S Ramakrishnan
July 8, 2007
08:33 AM

It's a myth that illiteracy and poverty are responsible for all social ills including terrorism. The failed terror attacks in the UK are an example.

Otherwise well educated Brahmins are the ones who religiously follow horoscopes, manglik and gotra in arranged marriages. An illiterate Dalit Christian couldn't care less, since these are not followed in his community. So religious and cultural influences play a larger role than the level of education or affluence.

July 8, 2007
08:41 AM

I will be happy to look up examples. I will post them after I find specific ones. I can remember most recently ones that have taken place in Canada, the US and Jordan. For god's sake, Jordan is a really educated country, and honor killing is practically sanctioned by law there. 1/3 of the murders of all women there are honor killings!

Yes, of course it is the case that education has not overcome tradition. But that is not what you were saying. You argued that honor killing was mostly a tool of the semi-literate or the illiterate, which is not accurate. There are many highly educated communities around the world which still engage in their own warped interpretations of Islam (honor killing is not sanctioned by Sharia law!!!). The mistake people make is in thinking that all radicals are uneducated, which is really a terrible mistake to make. Look at the doctors who are now under suspicion for the Glasgow bombings.

July 8, 2007
08:47 AM

My point was mostly about tradition encouraging people to actually get provoked enough to kill. I don't disagree with the points being raised, but to kill required a high degree of adherence to tradition and disregard for human life.

July 8, 2007
09:01 AM

agreed, but that doesn't mean you did not go to university. it only means you're a traditionalist.

educated does not equal compassionate, intelligent, OR enlightened. it just means you got a degree. Also, you could be friggin brilliant and still be a sociopath.

July 8, 2007
01:16 PM

Okay, let me state again what I wanted to say. I accept everything that people have said.
My basic point was, with education of society as a whole, the value of an individual life is valued greater, individual liberties are more valued, and so on. Exceptions, plenty. The nazis, the Soviets, are both shining examples.
Just on the altar of tradition, lives will not be sacrificed, and not repented.

Sanjay Garg
July 8, 2007
07:02 PM

@Ashish:My basic point was, with education of society as a whole, the value of an individual life is valued greater, individual liberties are more valued, and so on.

nazis, soviets are your typical, run of the mill exceptions. Why not include colonialism, slavery, genocides in the new world etc? In each case, it was the more educated that were enslaving, colonializing and genociding the less educated. Some of the worst atrocities of british colonialism were happening while educated people like James Mill were pontificating sagely on Liberty in the british parliament - to other educated people. Many are the slips between cup and lip!

It is often said that extremely secular systems have tortured, killed, genocided more people in the last 100 years than all religious traditions put together have done in millenia.

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