Mumbai : A Hindu-Muslim couple, who had run away from their home in Uttar Pradesh, were murdered recently in Thane. According to police sources, the couple who hailed from UP had come to live in Thane after they married against their families’ wishes. Varsha* who was married to a man from the OBC community said that after her marriage, the grandmother of her then-husband never allowed her to touch the puja and kitchen items as she hailed from a neo-Buddhist family. “Though the family was pious they practised untouchability, which I could not tolerate and decided to get a divorce,” said Varsha.
Recent national crime records bureau data shows that inter-community love affairs (1,379 cases) and illicit relationships (1,568) have led to a large number of murders in the country. Of the 32,127 cases of murder in India in 2015, there were 56 cases in which people were killed due to caste and another 27 due to community differences. Of the 251 cases of honour killings, 192 were charged under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, while 59 were charged under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
The India Human Development Survey (IHDS), conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, across various states in the country revealed that only 5 percent couples had an inter-caste marriage. The survey highlights the fact that despite marriages are still largely within comfort of the same caste and community.
Said demographer and social activist, Nitin Lata Waman, “All castes are mutually exclusive endogamous groups governed by Varna System which divides and recognises these castes as holy and unholy. So the society has fixed upper castes and lower castes without mobility to upper or lower level. This gave sanctity, socio-economic privileges to few castes over the rest. Therefore to maintain purity of blood and the privileges, marriages are not allowed outside the castes. Over the time it got religious sanctity. “Such caste prejudices regarding lower castes contributes a lot to inter-caste marriages not working out,” said Suresh Mane, noted lawyer and politician.
Stressing the need to stop practising caste discrimination at the root level, social activist Abhinaya Ramesh said, “We should scrap this system of using the surname along with the individual’s name, when the child enters the school his caste is identified by the surname and from then onwards the discrimination starts. Also, in every important document, the column which asks to identify the person’s castes should also be done with.”
(*Names changed to