M A I N   N E W S

5 get death for ‘honour killing’
n First capital punishment for such crime in Haryana
n Gallows for slain girl’s brother, 2 cousins, 2 uncles
n ‘Influential’ khap leader gets away with life term
n Court indicts cops escorting the slain couple
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

The verdict is good, but not good enough. The court has pronounced only life sentence to village strongman and Congress leader Ganga Raj. I wonder why, as he was the mastermind of the killing of my son (Manoj) and his wife (Babli). — Chandrapati, victim’s mother

Karnal, March 30
In a historic judgment, a sessions court here today pronounced death sentence for five men accused of kidnapping and killing a young couple in February, 2007. One more accused was sentenced to life imprisonment while the driver of the hired vehicle used in the abduction would have to serve seven years in prison.

Manoj (23) and Babli (19) of Karora village in Kaithal were abducted while they were returning from a Kaithal court after recording their statements. They were being escorted by the police when they were dragged out from a bus on the national highway and whisked away. Later, their bodies were found.

The sentence was delivered by Additional District Sessions Judge Vani Gopal Sharma. And this is the first time that a court in Haryana has awarded capital punishment in an ‘honour killing’. The trial followed a complaint by the family of one of the deceased and not by the police. The court had last week held the seven guilty but had reserved the sentence.

While the media were kept out of the courtroom, it was learnt that defence lawyers had pleaded for leniency in view of the relatively young age of the accused and their children while the prosecution had argued for capital punishment.

The court pronounced capital punishment to Suresh (the slain girl’s brother), Rajinder (uncle), Baru Ram (maternal uncle), Gurdev and Satish (cousins) and life term for Ganga Raj, a village strongman. Mandeep Singh, the driver of the vehicle (Scorpio), was sentenced to seven years in prison. The convicts were held guilty of murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and destroying evidence under sections 302, 364,120 B and 210 of IPC. The convicts were also ordered to pay up Rs 1 lakh as cost to Chandrapati, mother of the deceased boy. Besides, the court slapped a fine of Rs 16,000 on Ganga Raj and Rs 6,000 each on the other six convicts.

The court also indicted six police personnel for dereliction of duty and directed the SSP, Kaithal, to take action against them. They include ASI Jagbir Singh, head constables Dharam Pal, Jai Inder and Ram Mehar, lady constable Usha Rani and constable Satbir Singh, all members of the escort party provided to the slain couple. The court compound here wore the look of a fortress. The convicts arrived in prison vans and got down with broad smiles, but they clenched their teeth and looked with blood-shot eyes at the waiting media on their way back to prison.

The entire village had turned hostile towards Manoj’s family as the ‘khap’ (religious panchayat) was against his marriage with Babli, who too, was from the same ‘gotra’ (sub-caste).



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