The latest headline hogger is the so-called ‘honour’ killings. A phenomenon that we used to hear from the civilisationally backward regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan has reached the doorsteps of Delhi. Parents, brothers and family members are brutally killing their young ones in the name of caste and giving it a most ill-fitting name called ‘honour.’ These are boorish, beastly crimes: macabre murders plain and simple, deserving instant punishment. And these men and women deserve to be ostracised from our society permanently.
Politicians hide behind the façade of the need for more effective legislations to tackle this crime. This is simply not to confront the issue head-on. The existing laws are sufficient to deal with these heinous crimes. What is lacking is political will and societal pressure. It seems as if the Hindu society is in dire need of some serious soul-searching and reform.
In fact going by the increase in such murders recently, one wonders if property disputes and personal enmity are being projected as ‘honour’ killing.
If these are murders being committed in the name of caste and religion, then, they are not mere law and order or criminal issues. They reflect how much the society has degenerated. It is a social malice and can be treated and cured not by laws alone but by social reformers and religious and spiritual leaders.
Hinduism is the most self-correcting progressive religion in the world. Whenever there has been social-religious regression, the spiritual leaders have stepped in and helped heal the society. Organisations like Arya Samaj, which has a substantial mass base in Haryana and Punjab, from where most of these killings are originating, should assume a pro-active role in spreading the message of a casteless society.
The second RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Guruji M S Golwalkar brought the Shankaracharyas, saints, mahants and dharmacharyas on one platform for the first time ever in 1964, where they pledged to work against caste and accept with warm heart as one of our own those Hindus who re-converted. He ironed out the differences among the saints on the issue of social discrimination and passed a unanimous resolution.
Mahatma Gandhi made it an issue in his political campaign to earn the temple-entry rights for all Hindus irrespective of their social status.
But today’s politicians are a different lot. To safeguard their narrow interest and often for want of better political articulation they take recourse to caste politics and even demand special privileges though under the law and the Constitution every Indian citizen is equal. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress MP Naveen Jindal have been openly supporting the khap panchayat. They are advocating amending laws to ban same-gotra marriages and other ancient caste-community divisions.
Politics can be a very effective instrument for social change and reform. But politics today has become the embodiment of India’s social decay. It has become the biggest stumbling block to the onward march of a resurgent new India. Politicians cutting across party lines recently demanded caste-based census. The political parties- when the candidates list is announced-identify them by caste and give details of how many were accommodated from which caste, a thing unheard of, say, two decades earlier. Party posts are distributed pandering to the lowest and most narrow of human predilections. It is a fact that the system today perpetuates and promotes caste divisions. For any application anywhere, mentioning caste is mandatory. Hence, even without wanting or seeking, caste is stamped on every Indian right from birth.
The newspapers and the TV channels are churning up a lot of material on the ‘honour’ killings. The sound bites of people supporting the killings are repeated ad nauseam. But one is yet to see a sound bite of respected leaders who have the courage to stand up and denounce these social evils. Even the police at times is seen as helping these murderers get away. Going by the sustained broadcast of these murders one is even afraid if it is part of the campaign to malign the Hindu society.
Caste is not the only evil plaguing these societies. Haryana and Punjab top among the states for female feticide and infanticide, so much so that the male-female ratio has fallen dramatically. The men of eligible age for marriage are seeking women from other regions for marriage. The community leaders here are doing precious little to change the scenario.
The situation today is craving for a concerted campaign against such social evils. The politicians may promote it for their vested interest. But the society must protect itself. Here is where the role of the social reformers and religious leaders are most needed. They must rise up to the challenge and liberate the society from these ills.