Karnataka’s Honour Killings: Women Murdered, But No Convictions

There are several cases which are reported as suicides, and culprits roam scot free. 

3 min read
(Photo Courtesy: iStockphoto)

In 2011, a man named Ramakrishna and his nephews Ramanna and Timmesh Lallegowda allegedly killed Suvarna over her affair with a Dalit man of their village in Mandya district. Over five years later, conviction seems to be a far-fetched idea.

Quoting figures from the State Crime Records Bureau, The Hindu reported that there have been 10 suspected honour killings in Karnataka since 2011.

Mandya has recorded three cases and Ramanagara district two cases. Anekal, Hesaraghatta, Dharwad , Mysuru and Hassan have record one case each. A total of 13 people, including a four-month-old baby have been killed.

The Blamegame

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

In several of these cases, media reports and studies by activists show efforts were made to make the death look like a suicide, or to pin blame on the Dalit man’s family.

Nineteen-year-old Monica’s death some days ago, also points to this. Mandya SP had told The News Minute that her father and her maternal uncle had confessed that they hanged the body from a tree after killing her.

HV Vasu, a member of Karnataka Jana Shakti (KJS), who is pursuing the legal battle with Suvarna’s killing, said that there were attempts to pin the blame on Suvarna’s partner Govindaraju.

Suvarna was murdered and hanged by her parents at her lover’s house so that it appeared as if the boy’s family had committed the crime. The communities use their influence to suppress the issue. Most of them get out on bail after serving 7-8 months as the police find it difficult to find any proof. Most deaths are reported as suicide.
HV Vasu, a member of Karnataka Jana Shakti

Govindaraju and some of his family members too had been assaulted.

Even when the partner of the murdered woman wishes to give a statement to the police, he would be discouraged, says Mallige, also a member of KJS.

Police Support and Evidence

In some cases, the police too tacitly support the girl’s family.

Willingly or unwillingly, police heed to the more influential community as they face pressure from them. 
Guruprasad Kerud, Karnataka state convenor of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti

Meanwhile, Manjula Manasa, Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women wrote a letter to Home Minister G Parameshwara.

(We wonder whether) Her life could have been saved had the police sent Monica to a Swadhara Kendra run by the Women and Child Development department.
Manjula Manasa, Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women

Guruprasad, who has protested against caste atrocities cases including the Abalavadi case said that even if the police registers a case, convictions are very difficult as there would be no one to appear as witness.

People tend to look down upon families of girls who have fallen in love or eloped with a boy of a different caste. Facing the society becomes a tormenting affair as the whole family is treated like an outcast.
Guruprasad Kerud, Karnataka state convenor of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti

After Suvarna’s death in 2011, KJS members had interacted with college students on the subject. To their surprise, some girls felt what she had done was wrong.

Although they were against killing Suvarna, they said that such girls must be severely punished as they bring disrepute to the family honour. If this is what is ingrained in the teenagers’ psyche, how can anything change?
HV Vasu, a member of Karnataka Jana Shakti

(The writer Sarayu Srinivasan works with The News Minute.)

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