India: Man Confesses to Killing Daughter over Inter-Caste Affair

Vasudevan Sridharan
Bengaluru, India
160524-IN-honor-620.jpg Indian students participate in a silent protest in Mumbai over a caste-related suicide, Jan. 21, 2016.

A man from the south Indian state of Karnataka has confessed to killing his teenaged daughter because she turned down his request to end her relationship with a lower-caste boy, police said Tuesday.

Sunday’s incident in Kolar, a district about 70 km (43.4 miles) from the state capital Bengaluru, was a “clear case of honor killing,” in which couples are attacked because their families disapprove of their relationships on grounds of caste or religion, the area's Circle Inspector of Police H.N. Chandrappa told BenarNews.

Byra Reddy, 45, a welder, was arrested for killing his 17-year-old daughter, Priya, Chandrappa said. Reddy’s wife, Padmamma, 43, and his teenaged son, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, had also been taken into custody for abetting the crime, Chandrappa said.

According to police, Reddy strangled Priya, a high school student, after she refused to end her relationship with 20-year-old Harish, who belongs to a lower caste.

While the Reddy family belongs to the upper Vokkaliga community, Harish belongs to the Thigala community, which figures at the lower end of Hinduism’s hierarchical caste system, police said.

“Priya’s parents had warned her on several occasions to end her love affair with Harish as he belonged to a caste lower than theirs. But she didn’t listen,” Chandrappa said. “On Sunday night, Byra Reddy and his son took Priya to a farm in their village and strangled her with a rope,” he added.

Chandrappa said that Reddy had confessed to the crime during interrogation.

Hearing Priya’s screams, several local villagers rushed to the spot and found the girl lying motionless, he said, adding that police had enough evidence to prove that Priya’s family was involved in her killing.

At the lowest rung

The latest case of an honor killing comes two months after a 19-year-old girl belonging to the Vokkaliga community was allegedly killed by her father in Karnataka’s Mandya district for attempting to elope with a Dalit boy.

Traditionally regarded as untouchables, the historically marginalized Dalit community forms the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system and continues to be subjected to violent attacks in India.

In March, a 22-year-old Dalit student was hacked to death in south India’s Tamil Nadu state by three machete-wielding men while he was out shopping with his wife, who belongs to an upper caste. She was critically injured in the assault, which was caught on closed-circuit cameras as dozens of onlookers stood by.

The girl’s father and four other relatives were arrested for the crime.

In Karnataka alone, at least 10 suspected cases of honor killings have come to light since 2011.

However, rights activist suggest that the figure could be higher because many other such incidents are registered under different categories, such as violence against women, and even suicides.

S.Y. Irannavar of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission said there were no figures to determine the exact number of incidents of honor killings in the state. The actual number, he said, could be higher than those reported in the media.

Although India-specific figures are unavailable, U.N. statistics show that 1,000 of 5,000 such killings annually occur in India, a majority of them in the country’s rural pockets.

“The only way [to stop caste-related violence] is by creating awareness. Awareness measures need to initiated, especially at the grassroots level, where a majority of such crimes take place,” Irannavar told BenarNews.


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