Police in eastern India have arrested one person and are searching for 14 others after a couple who had eloped together were beaten to death and cremated by relatives as a crowd looked on, police said.
Jairam Manjhi, 25, and 16-year-old girlfriend, Parvati Kumari, were stopped by Kumari’s relatives at a railway station in Gaya district as they tried to run away together on Wednesday morning, police said.
“They were brought back to the girl’s village under heavy protection, beaten to death, and then cremated together outside the village,” said Gaya’s sub-divisional police officer, Manoj Kumar Sudhanshu.
The couple are understood to have been beaten to death by sticks and stones. “This is a clear case of ‘honour killing’. They took the law into their own hands,” said Sudhanshu.
Manu Maharaj, police chief of the Gaya district, said: ‘They mercilessly beat the couple and later burnt their dead bodies outside the village. There were more than 100 villagers present when the couple was lynched.
Manjhi, who was married and had three children, had been in a relationship with Kumari for six months, which angered Kumari’s family in Amaitha village, police said.
No one in the village tried to stop the attack on the couple.
Police only heard of it when someone from a neighbouring village reported the crime.
Kumari’s aunt has been arrested and police are carrying out raids and searching for 14 other people — some of them Kumari’s relatives, police said.
Honour killings — when a person is killed by a family member who believes the victim has brought shame on the family, clan, or community — are common in parts of South Asia, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some regions of India.
Government figures show that 18 honour killings were reported in India in 2014.
Activists say the crime is under-reported and many such killings are covered up and made to look like suicides from poisoning or hanging.
In India, khap panchayats — community groups made up of powerful men who set the rules in villages — are often seen as instigating such killings.
Police said preliminary evidence did not suggest the village council was involved in this case.
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