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Young man beheaded, girl killed: the end they deserved, says Haryana village

Young man beheaded, girl killed: the end they deserved, says Haryana village

Villagers say it's wrong to assume they are not changing with the times.

Rohtak:  It was just 48 hours ago that the head of 23-year-old Dharmendra Barak was found by his family outside the house that he had left that morning. Just a short 10-minute walk away, the girl he was in love with, Nidhi Barak, had been cremated. The police says she was stabbed to death by her own parents. They have been arrested.

Their village in the Rohtak district of Haryana, just over 80 km from Delhi, is united today. Not in its grief, but in its conviction that the brutal killings of the young lovers was just. In narrow lanes occasionally traversed by the SUV of a rich farmer, the usual weekday activity is assembled. There is no sense of pause.

Policemen patrol the streets near the homes of the two families whose children eloped despite the diktat that forbids love between a man and woman of the same caste or even village.

"If my daughter loved like this... within the same gotra (caste).....I would kill her myself with my own hands," says Dharmendra's neighbour, a woman wearing a faded blue kurti, her head covered.  

In another part of the village, a man in a dhoti says that local traditions must be upheld; anyone who follows their own path must be systemically removed. "Like you clean the wheat and throw away the stones...that's what this is. Society has to be cleansed."

The young college student whose assassination is being discussed so pragmatically lived in a small sized home, the youngest son of the family. In the main room, a group of men including his father are smoking the hookah. In a smaller room next door, his wife and other women are cleaning.  

Dharmedra's brother refuses to explain why the family has not filed a police case against Nidhi's parents.

"Is it written anywhere that brothers and sisters can marry?" he asks.  "We think it's our duty to punish our own children."

In contrast, Nidhi's home is built on a huge plot of land. Her father, now in jail, bred dogs, which were sold in Delhi.  

When he was arrested, he said, "I have no regrets. I'll do it again if I have to."

This village is a part of the constituency of Deepender Singh Hooda, the son of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Both men have not condemned the killings.  Nor have other politicians from Haryana.

Local khap panchayats - which set the terms and conditions for everything from when women can visit the market to whether teen girls can carry cell phones - wield immense power. They can decide who wins an election.

Villagers say it's wrong to assume they are not changing with the times.  

But when she has grown up, that same girl's murder can also be flashed as a badge of honour -to prove she was stopped from shaming her family.

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