- Between 2001 and 2015, love was the officially recorded reason for 38,585 murders and culpable homicide cases.
- Terror, on the other hand, killed 20,000 people, including civilians and security forces, in the same period.
- In suicides, West Bengal leads the list, despite the fact that data for 2012 was not available for the state.
(AP photo used for representation)
Between 2001 and 2015, love was the officially recorded reason for 38,585 murders and culpable homicide cases. Government records also link it with 79,189 suicides. Further, 2.6 lakh kidnapping cases were also filed in this period where marriage was mentioned as the motive of ‘abducting’ women.
That’s an average of seven murder cases, 14 suicides and 47 kidnapping cases – mostly because somebody eloped and kith and kin are uncomfortable with that idea — every day. Terror, on the other hand, killed 20,000 people, including civilians and security forces, in the same period. The data shows that Andhra Pradesh, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed the highest number of murder cases where love was the stated motive.
Each witnessed over 3,000 such cases in this period. Of course, bigger states with large populations understandably will have more cases. These cases include both jilted men turning violent, despondent lovers ending their lives as well as murders committed because of the social outrage over love affairs that unsettle class and caste hierarchies.
“To understand this violence in oppressing a person’s exercise of choice when it comes to marriage, one has to understand patriarchy and caste system,” says retired professor Uma Chakravarti who has done extensive work on gender.
Caste is a way to control resources and can only survive by strict control on marriages+ . Both patriarchy and caste survive through violence and that explains the use of violent means against people who threatens this hierarchy, she explains.
“Most of these are institutionally abetted suicides,” says documentary filmmaker Nakul Singh Sawhney who made the 2012 documentary ‘Izzatnagri ki Asabhya Betiyan’ (Immoral Daughters in the Land of Honour) which revolves around the resistance of women against khap panchayats in Haryana and western UP.
“Many of these suicides are the result of a hopeless situation created when the state leaves its citizen to be targeted by autocratic institutions that want to maintain caste and class hierarchy,” says Jagmati Sangwan of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). “One has to understand that even today the control of family on apparently independent individuals has remained intact and through family there is a social control on marriage,” adds Chakravarti.
Although the numbers are staggering, experts believe there is massive under-reporting in states like Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh where the local police is often either directly involved or turns a blind eye to honour killings as many of the policemen come from the same milieu.