Sunday, November 17, 2002

Three lynched over inter-caste love affair in India

LUCKNOW: A young couple and a friend were burned alive in a northern Indian village by the bride’s family which was enraged she had eloped with a boy from a lower caste, police said Saturday.

Gudiya Singh, who belonged to the upper-caste Thakur community, had fallen in love with Rakesh (eds: one name), from the lowest caste, the Dalits, and the pair eloped Wednesday night in Aatgaon village in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

On discovering Gudiya had run off with a lower-caste boy, her father, Sher Singh, enlisted the help of his family to track down Dharam Singh, another Dalit, who had helped organize the impromptu marriage, police said.

After forcing the boy to divulge where the couple was hiding, the bride’s family beat all three of them and burned them alive. The charred remains were recovered Friday from a nearby pond, police said. Police said they sent reinforcements to the village, which is some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, to catch those behind the lynching and prevent wider caste conflict.

Officers say they are still seeking the arrest of the father and any other family members involved.

Up to 250 million people — or about a quarter of Indiaa’s population — are Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” who are at the bottom of Indiaa’s layered caste system.

While the Indian government banned caste discrimination at independence from Britain in 1947, it persists throughout the country, particularly villages.

Source: Daily Times, November 17, 2002

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