NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A young couple who had fallen in love and eloped from their village in northern India fearing disapproval from their community have been murdered in a so-called "honour killing", the NDTV news channel reported on Friday.
According to the report, 20-year-old Nidhi Barak was allegedly lynched by her own family, while her boyfriend Dharmender Barak, 23, was beheaded after they ran away from the village in Haryana state on Sept 17, located 80 km from New Delhi, fearing their community would disapprove of their courtship.
But they returned the following day after being persuaded by Nidhi's family that they would not be harmed.
"At Nidhi's home, her father, brother and uncle allegedly killed her first, before turning on Dharmender," said the report.
"Using farming tools, they allegedly broke his arms and legs, stabbed him repeatedly and beheaded him. Dharmender's headless body was dumped outside his home in the same village."
The woman's parents, brother and uncle have been arrested, and the father has reportedly admitted to killing the couple.
"I have no regrets. I'll do it again if I have to," Billu, Nidhi's father, was quoted as saying.
The report said the parents of the dead man will not register a police complaint against the murder of their son, saying the couple got what they deserved.
"Honour killings" – when a person is murdered by a family member out of belief that the victim has brought shame on the family, clan or community – are common in parts of South Asia, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and some regions of India.
Khap Panchayats, community groups comprising elderly men which set the rules in Indian villages in regions such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, are often seen as instigating such murders in these highly traditional regions. Yet these village councils have no legal sanction.
In 2011, India's Supreme Court called for an end to customary practices which promote "honour killings", saying the brutal tradition of parents killing their children to protect their so-called reputation is "barbaric" and "shameful".