Love in times of caste war


Love has not been able to cross the caste barrier. Not yet in Rajasthan as parents of Gujjar girl allegedly kill her for marrying a Meena boy, finds out Rajasthan Post

A young duo’s love story has met a tragic end with the alleged murder of the youthful, lively wife by her own family members.     

Pratibha Gujjar, 23, married Devasheesh  Meena, 22 on May 11 this year but has been made the victim of honour killing by her father, who is a bank employee. She was brutally electrocuted and murdered on July 27 after the wedding of her elder sister on July 25 in their native village Khakhawali in Bharatpur district.    

Pratibha hails from Gujjar community while Devasheesh is from Meena community the two rival castes, which have been at loggerheads ever since Gujjar have tried to cut a slice from Meena’s Scheduled Tribe caste quota.

Despite Devasheesh depositing all electronic evidence to the police, it is yet to take action against the accused father, who is said to have boasted of even killing her daughter.    

“Justice for Pratibha’s murder is not only important for me but for the whole society  because falling in love is not a crime but honour killing is,” says Devashish in his complaint to the police.

Vishan Singh Gujjar, a bank employee and Pratibha’s father who is alleged to have killed his daughter to save family honour  
Vishan Singh Gujjar, a bank employee and Pratibha’s father who is alleged to have killed his daughter to save family honour

Social and women activists say Devasheesh, an engineering graduate from Alwar was under tremendous pressure for not filing the case for the murder of his wife.

But his undying love for his wife and her constant pleas for help as she faced  mental and physical threat from her family, ultimately forced him to file the complaint.

Devashish and Pratibha, a BSc graduate from college in Alwar, had first met in school in 2006. Since then their courtship started and they realized they would not be able to live without each other.

Pratibha’s family came to know of their relationship in 2008 and tried to do them apart.

In 2009 Pratibha was sent to Kota for preparing for engineering entrance and Devasheesh found himself in engineering college in Tripura, which he later left to pursue electronics and communications in a college in Alwar.

Long distance could lessen their love and it was bridged through calls, emails, letters. Pratibha knew that her family would never agree to their match and feared for their lives.  

But in 2014, when Pratibha’s aunt saw them together, her father Vishan Singh Gujjar, who is one of the directors of an employment project for Bank of Baroda, got their call details out and started torturing his daughter mentally and physically.

In February 2015, Pratibha wrote a letter to a friend to pass it onto Devasheesh, saying how she was locked up in the house, was not allowed to go out or call. She was also being beaten up and tortured mentally too.

So they decided to elope and got married on May 11, 2015 in Delhi in Arya Samaj way and got their marriage registered as well in Delhi. And when they reached Jammu for Vaishno Devi, they were called back by Pratibha’s father, who promised to get them married again socially.

Devasheesh said Pratibha did not believe him and did not want to come back. But he believed her father and they reached Alwar on May 13. They were separated at the railways station itself and Pratibha taken to  Khakhawali village.

Devasheesh said: “Pratibha’s father assured me that we would be married again and accepted socially but only after Pratibha’s elder sister, Anjali’s marriage on July 25. And that I would have to wait till the wedding ceremonies and functions got over.”

Pratbiha’s last call came on July 23, when she was crying incessantly and saying that her family could do anything to her after the marriage ceremonies. She promised to call on July 26.

But no call came on July 26 or thereafter. He then went to village Khakhawali on July 30 where Pratbiha’s father boasted of killing her by giving her electric shocks.

The women organisations and social activists fact-finding team, which visited the village of Khakhawali said people showed them the place where Pratibha was drowned in a water tank and electrocuted.

Devasheesh said her father boasted that he can now spend the amount of Rs 20 lakh which he had saved for Pratibha’s marriage on police complaint when he was threatened with it.  

Devasheesh said several people from their village and even his own family warned him of not filing the case and pursue his career and life and even tried to bribe him by offering him with Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh.

Devasheesh could file the FIR only on August 19 at Crime Branch, Jaipur. The family members of Pratibha were questioned who said their daughter got electrocuted by cooler. The police pursued the case till about Sept 9-10 after which they went slow. The additional SP, Laxman Das, said investigations are on but no one has been arrested as yet.

On Sept 14th, Devasheesh again wrote to IG, Bharatpur, Biju G Joseph,  asking him the progress in the case. But there has been no response since then.

Activists, who are helping Devasheesh with legal intricacies are questioning why isn’t   police taking note that the girl’s family did not approach the police after the unnatural death of their daughter or why wasn’t any  post mortem done.

Honour killing cases has been on the rise in Rajasthan with reported cases from Sikar and Dausa district.   

 

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