Monday, November 26, 2012

Honour Killing - Man featured in Aamir Khan's show on honour killing murdered in Western Uttar Pradesh


Bulandshahr, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India: Five months after a young couple appeared on Aamir Khan's television show, Satyamev Jayate, and talked about the threat to their lives because they had married without their parents' consent, the man was shot dead near his village in western Uttar Pradesh on Thursday evening, allegedly by his wife's brothers.

Abdul Hakim, 28, and his 26-year-old wife Mehwish, both Muslims hailing from families with different social standing, had been living under the protection of an NGO in Delhi since May last year. About 15 days ago, Hakim and his wife, who is nine months pregnant, went to meet his ailing mother near Adoli village in Bulandshahr district. He was shot there, while on his way home from the local police station.

The couple, who were neighbours at Adoli, ran away together two years ago after marrying secretly in June 2009. According to Mehwish, her family was opposed to the match because Hakim was poor and belonged to the 'lower' Fakir community. Hakim's father was earlier allegedly killed by Mehwish's family in the village, although it was shown as suicide in police records.

"They would not let us live in peace and now they have taken their revenge," she said on Monday.

"The couple was scared even before coming to the show," Aamir Khan told reporters in Jaipur. "We didn't force anyone to come to the show. The incident is highly unfortunate and shameful."

UP police, meanwhile, have spun an elaborate theory saying the killing was an act of "personal enmity" going back to the time when the couple was in Delhi. But Mehwish and her Delhi-based shelter-providers, Love Commandos, said it was a clear case of murder involving her brothers.

Bulandshahr circle officer Lal S Yadav said Hakim was a victim of a family feud that had its roots in Delhi. "The girl's family had come to accept the marriage. Nothing indicates this murder is linked to the couple's marriage," he claimed.

Yadav added that Hakim's nephew, Salman, had entered into a brawl on June 6 and the alleged killers wanted him to take back the police case lodged against them. "Hakim's death was a result of this feud," said Yadav.

The couple, after a 12-year courtship, had secretly married on June 5, 2009. They kept living with their respective parents till Mehwish's family fixed her marriage for November 11, 2010. The couple then eloped on October 29. Till then, exchanging letters across a brick wall was the only source of communication between the two.

Mehwish's family then announced a bounty on the couple's capture. In May 2011, the pair started living in a shelter in Delhi provided by Love Commandos, an organization that works to eradicate 'honour killings'. This was the first time they had returned to their village, where Hakim also had a police case lodged against him of kidnapping Mehwish.

The nation became aware of the couple's struggles when they were featured in Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate on June 3.

"On June 30, the National Commission for Women ordered UP police to protect the two. But this directive was ignored. They asked Hakim to come down to Bulandshahr to record his statement. When he refused, they never contacted him again," Sanjoy Sachdev, chairman of Love Commando, said. The area SSP, however, offered to review his security.

Meanwhile, a girl was born to the couple bringing fresh hope that relations between the two families would normalize. But that was not to be.

"I didn't know people of my own village had arranged for weapons to kill us. I am the next target," a shocked Mehwish said.

Hakim's family had moved to Bhargardi village, 2km away from Adoli. But his father, Abdul Hafiz, refused to leave his ancestral house and stayed back. On July 6, 2011 Hakim's nephew Salman visited an ailing Hafiz to know about his well-being and on his way home, he was allegedly assaulted by Mehwish's relatives. When Salman reported the matter to the police, a non-cognizable report was lodged.

Enraged over the police case, the accused allegedly reached the house of an ailing Abul Hafiz, hanged him upside from a tree right outside his house and assaulted him in full public view. When Abdul Hafiz's wife Shahooran, who had come to stay with her ailing husband, intervened, she too was assaulted. Hafiz died hanging from the tree. The police, however, saw the incident as suicide.

The couple was on the run when Mehwish gave birth to a baby girl who was now a year-and-a-half. In August 2012, when Mehwish got pregnant for the second time, she reached Bhargardi village to stay with Hakim's family for the delivery. Hakim used to visit her once or twice a week. On November 20, Hakim visited Mehwish when he was informed that people were on the lookout for him.

Hakim lodged a complaint with the local police the same day but no action followed. On Noveber 22, he was walking back after buying medicines for his wife when he was intercepted by three persons who shot him dead in public view around 4.30pm.

Actor Aamir Khan said he is aware of the incident and would speak to the authorities to ensure the safety of the rest of the family. He described the murder as "disturbing and unfortunate". "I will speak to government authorities in UP to help and ensure the family is safe. The culprits must be brought to book. The case must be registered on basis of facts," the actor said.


The frequency with which 'honour' killings are taking place in various parts of the country, particularly in the north, is a testament to the inability of the state to act decisively in this matter. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that at least some of this inability is rooted in an unwillingness to act. This could either be because the values reflected by these killings are shared by those supposed to enforce the law or because it is considered politically costly to take them on. This must change. Our elected representatives and civil servants are sworn to uphold the values enshrined in the constitution and they must do so. If perpetrators of this kind of medieval 'justice' are swiftly brought to justice, others who share their mindsets might think twice before acting on their impulses.

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