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Kangaroo court executes husband

Behrampore, July 31: A 30-year-old was beheaded after a kangaroo court in a Murshidabad village decided he must die because he had married a girl from another community and the couple had hidden his religion from her family.

The young father, who was visiting his in-laws with his wife and 10-month-old son, was murdered in Lakshmanpur village, 210km from Calcutta, on July 14.

His beheaded body was found in a jute field outside the village on July 17 but was identified only after his wife, a 25-year-old who has been working as a maid in Mumbai for three years, went to police on July 27 after learning of the shalishi (kangaroo court) verdict.

“After about six months in Mumbai, I met my future husband, who worked there as a construction labourer. We got married at a marriage registrar’s office but I did not tell my father that my husband belonged to a different community. At the end of 2006, I brought my husband home to Lakshmanpur. He came under an assumed name as the village is very orthodox. We stayed for 12 days and there was no problem,” she said.

The village is so dogmatic that a shalishi meeting had fined her father Rs 200 for sending his daughter to work in Mumbai. “My father had become old and could not work. The family used to run on the meagre income of my brother, who worked as an agricultural labourer. So, three years ago, I was compelled to go to Mumbai to work as a maid,” the woman said.

She and her husband returned to Lakshmanpur on July 1 this year, this time with their son. On July 14, while watching a ritual along with other villagers, the man softly muttered a cry that was a dead giveaway of his religion.

His father-in-law overheard him and the same afternoon, went to village elders to tell them of his suspicion.

“A shalishi meeting was arranged in the compound of the village primary school the same evening, where my father took my husband. From that night, my husband was missing,” she said.

The young wife initially thought he had panicked and fled to Mumbai. But soon word spread in the village, and she got to hear of how the villagers had used force to find out her husband’s religion.

“When they found he belonged to a different community, they severely beat him up. Then the shalishi gave its verdict that the punishment for my husband was death as he had suppressed his religion, and that he must be beheaded,” she said.

Her brother said their father knew all along that his son-in-law had been murdered but kept it from his wife and children. “We learnt that almost everyone in the village knew about my brother-in-law’s fate. On July 27, the three of us (the siblings and their mother) went to Behrampore police,” he said.

Arun Das, the inspector-in-charge of Behrampore police station, said when the complaint was filed, they realised that the body they had recovered on July 17 must be his.

“We received a complaint against 10 persons, launched an interrogation and raided the village. We arrested three persons who had participated in the shalishi. They confessed to their crime. Interrogating the arrested persons, we came to know that four villagers had carried out the killing,” Das said.

Another officer said they confessed that the victim’s hands and feet were tied and he was gagged. “Then he was carried inside the jute field by four villagers and beheaded.”

Before making the arrests last night, Das took the young widow and her brother to the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Behrampore and recorded their statements.

The rest of the villagers who were part of the shalishi and the father-in-law had fled on July 28, when the police raided Lakshmanpur the first time.

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