Sir — I find it obnoxious that three people were murdered in cold blood for marrying according to their choice. As if this was not enough, the community they belonged to is praising the killers to the sky and treating them as heroes (“‘Role model’ tag on Delhi sister killers”, June 24). It is painful to see that the legal system is unable to take steps to stop such killings. Narrow political gains are preventing politicians from taking a stand. Community members should remember that they are now in the 21st century and no longer in medieval times. Every boy or girl has the right to choose a life partner, irrespective of their so-called gotra. In any case, gotra has no scientific meaning and is irrelevant today. Some members of the victims’ community have said that they do not value love marriages. But nothing can be more ridiculous than a marriage without love which then becomes a way for sexual exploitation of women.
The failure of the authorities to take action against the khap panchayats is further emboldening the law-breakers. It was disappointing to find a young parliamentarian like Naveen Jindal trying to justify a criminal act in the name of khap panchayats. The Central and state governments should stop dithering and take immediate steps to put an end to such medieval practices. Educational campaigns and strong penal action are the answer to the problem. The ‘honour’ killers should be given extreme punishment to deter others from repeating their actions. What is most important is that we ask ourselves whether we want to fulfil our dreams to see India as a free and developed country in the near future. Khap panchayats are a cruel joke. We must condemn them.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The recent spate of ‘honour killings’ in the country is shocking. Young men and women are being slaughtered by their near-and-dear ones, allegedly for marrying outside their caste and against their families’ wishes. Unfortunately, this manslaughter is being romanticized by some of our political leaders by citing ‘Indian tradition’. This narrow feudal mentality goes against the rational spirit of modern times. We in the Brahmo Samaj believe that the institution of caste poses a serious impediment to our lives. From all historical evidence, it is certain that castes were formulated to demarcate occupations. Our ancient sacred books say that initially the castes were fluid and one could switch among them by changing one’s trade. Later, caste status became permanent and turned into an instrument of oppression. The creator has made us all equal. The narrow divisions of caste or creed are man-made and superficial.
The love that lights up the lives of a man and a woman — hitherto strangers — is no different from our creator’s love for us. Human affection inspires the blossoming of some of the most cherished values like selflessness and sacrifice. Any effort to divert the flow of love along artificial channels of caste is against the natural order. ‘Honour’ killing is a misnomer: it is horrible and ghastly. Betrayal by one’s own kin is unthinkable. There cannot be any honour in these murders. We must all protest against this social madness by writing in the media and by building up a tide of opinion against it. Let us respect inter-caste and inter-religious love marriages in our families and neighbourhoods. It is the meeting of minds that makes a fruitful marriage, not external appendages like caste.
Baidurjya Sen Gupta, Ranchi
Hands are tied
Sir — Before resigning from his post as the lokayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde had pleaded for a long time with the government that the holder of the office be given enough power and independence to carry out his duties diligently (“Will power”, June 25). Having received no such assurance from the government, he was forced to take this painful decision. A former chief justice of India recently said that it is not just the act of receiving a bribe or the granting of official favours that creates corruption — corruption has many dimensions. Corruption denies benefits to the poor, stunts industrial growth and wealth-generation, and compromises the nation’s security. Corruption has a cascading effect, and we need to obstruct this for the sake of the millions of the poor in India.
The raids conducted by the lokayukta were reported faithfully in the media, but that is where things stopped. The officials nabbed in the raids are not worried because they know that their brief moment of notoriety will be forgotten and forgiven. No wonder that actions suggested by the lokayukta were lost in bureaucratic and political obfuscation. Nothing much will be achieved by amendments to the Right to Information Act or by an assertive lokayukta. India will continue to retain its dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Perhaps a legislation for the protection and rewarding of whistle-blowers can help matters. Such a law would allow the State to confiscate ill-gotten wealth.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Michigan, US
Heal the wounds
Sir — Ever since the world lost the legendary pop star, Michael Jackson, a year ago, tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the globe (“Fans pay tribute to Jackson”, June 26). Inmates of a prison in the Philippines have danced in his honour, hundreds of people have moonwalked in Mexico to create a Guinness record, commemorative stamps and merchandize dedicated to him have been released, and thousands of fans have held candlelight vigils and flocked to huge make-shift MJ shrines around the world to mark the first anniversary of his death. Various charitable deeds are also being done in his memory. Jackson’s unmatched international fame is apparent in such heartfelt homage to the world’s greatest entertainer. While many of us are yet to come to terms with the tragic loss, there are some, including renowned international artists, who have been able to convert their grief into art as a way of showing their love and appreciation for Jackson.
Jackson always worked towards uniting the world as a family. He has accomplished this incredible feat after his death. However, one cannot but add that had the media treated him fairly, he might still have been here.
Gayatri Swaroop, Calcutta