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Indian couple brutally separated by caste

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by spnadmin, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Nestoli, India — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Oct. 19, 2009 7:54PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 3:21AM EDT

    <!-- /#credit --> The last time Gaurav Saini saw his wife Monika, they were being led to separate jail cells. The police gave them one last chance: Promise to stay away from each other, pay a large bribe and they could go free. “I asked her, ‘Do you think your family will kill us if we don't do this?' She said, ‘They might.' I said, ‘Are you ready to die?' She said, ‘Yes.'“ So the couple signed no pledges or false confessions. Brought before a judge two days later, they insisted that they were legally married and of age and determined to live together. Irate, the magistrate – who, it would appear, had been paid off by Mr. Saini's in-laws – ordered him into custody, while his wife taken away by her family.

    That was on July 14. It took Mr. Saini, a 25-year-old computer engineer from Delhi, more than a month to get out of jail and file a habeas corpus petition to have Monika Dagar, 21, released from the clutches of her family.
    But when the family was supposed to produce her in court a few days ago, they instead announced that Ms. Dagar had died weeks earlier of a lung infection. Now no one knows where she is – most likely dead, or else sequestered in a village somewhere – but it is clear that her family will stop at nothing to keep her from Mr. Saini.

    Their star-crossed lovers' story is drenched in pathos, but it also contains some dark truths about what is changing, and what isn't, in the new India.
    The problem, ostensibly, was caste. Ms. Dagar was from a higher one than Mr. Saini, and her family could not stomach the match. The couple met on an Internet chat site in 2006 and for two years courted in secret – she would sneak away from her Delhi college to meet him at a mall – before she told her family she had a boyfriend and wished to marry him. While her family comes from a low rung of peasant farmers in the Hindu caste system, he is of a gardener caste, even lower.

    “They told her it would never be allowed, and if it happened, we would both be killed,” Mr. Saini recalled. “She called me to say she was very scared. She was crying on the phone.”

    As soon as Ms. Dagar graduated, her brother whisked her home, and the family locked her up in their yellow brick house in Nestoli, their village in Uttar Pradesh, according to court documents. After a month behind the closed shutters, she managed to get away and flee to Delhi.

    There the couple were hastily married in a Hindu rite attended only by a few of their close friends. Then they went home to a prosperous Delhi neighbourhood to live with Mr. Saini's parents, who had no qualms about the match and welcomed the newlyweds.

    But the story did not end there, because, it appears, corrupt police and judicial officials were willing to carry out the wishes of Ms. Dagar's family.
    “Obviously, the family paid the police to make everything look legal – and the magistrate,” said Amod Shastri, who runs a small legal-aid organization in Delhi and has been assisting Mr. Saini with his High Court petitions. “They thought they could pay, and get away with it.”

    Just four days after the wedding, Mr. Saini recalled, he and Ms. Dagar were sitting together e-mailing out job applications, making plans for their new life, when a half-dozen police officers and 10 of her relatives – including her mother and brother – burst into his parents' house. It was 10 o'clock at night. The police immediately began to beat them both, and dragged them away to a police station a few hours from the city, near Ms. Dagar's home in Nestoli. “She was crying, telling the police, ‘Don't let them take me, they'll kill me,'“ Mr. Saini recalled.

    Almost four months later, after several orders from the Delhi High Court, the Uttar Pradesh police conceded that they had erred: Ms. Dagar and Mr. Saini were of legal age and lawfully wed, and the kidnapping-of-a-minor charge laid against him was illegal, as was his month-long detention. One officer involved has been suspended and another transferred, said police spokesman Samar Jeet Singh, while Ms. Dagar's fate is now the subject of an investigation.

    The case has had some coverage in the Uttar Pradesh media as a “caste murder.” Discrimination based on caste has been outlawed in India for decades, but remains, in actuality, a powerful governing principle. There are daily reports of low caste “untouchables” being barred from temples or beaten for some caste infraction. At the same time, the number of “reservations” – places in university or government jobs held for “backward classes” – is a raging public debate. Caste is the first requirement listed in more than half of the matrimonial ads in newspapers and online. But a family conflict over caste like this one rarely makes the papers, or the court docket.

    “Her family is just like other families around: They were protective of their daughter and would not want her to go off and get married against their wishes,” said Bhagat Singh, a neighbour who attended school with Ms. Dagar. “Normally it would be settled in the family. … I think things went too far, and now they really have a problem.”

    Mr. Saini does not believe his wife fell mysteriously ill and died while he was battling to get out of jail and rescue her. “I've known her for three years and we've shared everything,” he said. “She never needed a doctor once. Does it sound right that she would suddenly die?”

    The family had no death certificate and no medical records, his lawyer said. They claimed Ms. Dagar had been cremated on the day of her death with no postmortem. Villagers confirm she was ill and briefly hospitalized, but most seemed shocked when told that she had died, and said the family hastened through the apparent death with no rituals or gatherings of mourners.

    Talk to people in the village, and it emerges that the family's fight with Ms. Dagar may have had to do with more than just her fiancé's caste. Nestoli is a place of narrow cobbled streets, open gutters that run with sewage and placid buffalo that block the lanes. Ms. Dagar preferred life in the city, and wanted to study fashion design. Her father died when she was young, and her older brother Johnny made the decisions. She persuaded him to let her pursue a postsecondary education, but he would agree only to a science degree, and only if she lived in a convent-like women's residence. Bright and ambitious, she learned four languages – including Russian – and wanted another degree, but her family said she'd had enough education. She liked to wear tight jeans and T-shirts – in Nestoli, women still pull the ends of their saris over their faces when they walk in the street.

    “Since childhood, she had made compromises and now she didn't want to make any more,” Mr. Saini said. “But nobody listened to her or agreed to what she wanted.”

    A close friend of her brother Johnny, who refused to speak on the record because he didn't want to be seen “gossiping,” said it was Ms. Dagar's defiance as much as her fiancé's caste that caused the problem. “It became an ego thing with her brother. It was about his pride. It was a pride issue, that she was making her own decisions.”

    Ms. Dagar's high school teacher in Nestoli, who also refused to speak on the record, said Ms. Dagar was stubborn and frustrated by life in the village. “She told me that men of her caste had no idea how to talk to women,” she said.

    Mr. Saini, despite his lower caste, apparently had no such trouble. “That first moment we met was the moment that everyone wonders if they will have, when all their wishes will come true,” he said, near tears as he described her. Today, he nurses the hope that the family faked her death and shipped her off to relatives. Failing that, he is determined that the achingly slow Indian judicial system will hold her family accountable.
    “Of course I have no faith in the police,” he said. “But maybe the judiciary will help me.”

    Forwarded by forum member Tejwant Singh ji :cool:
     
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  3. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    What a SHAME..
     
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  4. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    I don't understand why this story is published on sikhchic.These type of cases occur on Daily basis in India.Recently a Hindu man was killed in Jammu and Kashmir by bribing police by the muslim girl's family who converted to hinduism and married him.Similarly a hindu jaat was killed after panchayat passed the order that he should be punished for marrying within his Gotra in Haryana a couple of months back.

    Forcible separation of couple's and killing is very common in India The reason could be anything.Religion,caste marrying from same gotra ,village etc
     
  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    kanwardeep ji

    Doesn't an issue like this one interest Sikhs because the culture of Sikhism and the culture of India overlap a lot. And Sikhs -- who are socially engaged by virtue of Guru Nanak's message -- want to be socially responsible and talk openly about the problems that confront them, and the rest of India too. I cannot think of a single big issue in India that does not affect Sikhs. It is hard to keep a firm boundary between what is Sikh and what is not Sikh. The difference may be that Sikhs are willing to speak out on this and will not be silenced. The time is going to come here in the US too where Sikhs will be the great advocates of social justice in the West. It is already starting to happen. This is a great calling -- the karma of our religion - to make a difference.
     
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  6. AusDesi

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    I doubt its caste. More Culture and Race. Im pretty sure Dagar's are gujjar. This is pretty common in the Delhi/Gurgaon/Faridabad area. A Punjabi boy/girl fals in love with a Gujjar boy/girl and one of the families threatens to kill the others child. In most cases its the Gujjars threatening the other party. In some cases they do that.

    My best friend in India has been beaten up several times and threatened that his whole family will be found in the Agra canal if he doesn't leave the girl alone. Girl happens to be from a rich Gujjar family.

    Not only that the cops help the richer party. My friend and his girlfriend tried to get a court marriage but someone advised him that even if they did that, the girl's family will pay the cops and the cops will say that the girl is not 18(she's actually 21) and he has raped her.

    Last I heard from him, he let it go. He said he did not want the girl or his family to be hurt. The girl's family also threatened to have her killed.
     
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