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  • Thread starter GopalaswamyShridharan
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GopalaswamyShridharan

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Demons and gods

Honour killings in India are not confined to the northern States; Tamil Nadu has a long history of such violence.

THERE is a belief that the kind of “honour killing” that rocked Parliament on July 28 is a recent phenomenon and is confined to some northern States such as Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. But interactions with Tamil scholars, folklorists, educationists and activists of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) reveal that murders committed on the pretext of protecting family “honour” still occur, though sporadically, in the rural and semi-urban areas of Tamil Nadu. The obnoxious practice, it seems, existed in pre-modern Tamil society also and assumed its worst form under feudalism.

Among the recent cases that shook the conscience of civil society was the poisoning and burning of a newly married couple who belonged to two different castes at Puthukooraipatti village in Cuddalore district in July 2003. Both the victims were graduates. The young man was a Dalit while his wife was from the backward Vanniya community.

"He said the history of honour killings could be ascertained through oral narrations, which showed that the victims were beaten to death or pushed into a corn bin. In some cases, the woman was asked to get into a narrow tunnel which would be covered with a slab so that she would die of suffocation. Women who were perceived to sully family honour were either murdered or forced to commit suicide. In some cases, underprivileged and dispossessed families living in a feudal society murdered girls the moment they felt they would not be able to protect them from the evil intentions of an all-powerful local zamindar (landlord) or a chieftain."

gopal.
 
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