November 06, 2006

Stone in our hearts

What happened in the town of Alinagar ka Majra in Uttar Pradesh, on the night of August 6, 2001? Bet you have no idea. But if you were there that night, you would probably have seen a large mob gathered, perhaps rushing about or shouting things. Of course I don’t know this for sure, but I think it’s likely.

That night, people were in search of 15 year-old Vishal Sharma and his 17 year-old girlfriend Sonu. Like happens to children everywhere, the two were in love. But because their love cut through caste lines -- Vishal was a Brahmin and Sonu, a Jat -- they had to be punished. So when they were found chatting on the side of a road, yes indeed: they paid for their love affair.

The sequence of events, naturally, is a little unclear. But there were reports at the time that their own families carried out the punishment. First, Sonu’s parents strangled her in front of Vishal. Then they asked Vishal’s family to do the same to him. They said they couldn’t, so Sonu’s parents did that deed too.

Later, the two mothers said the villagers had kept on “taunting” them about their kids’ love. Finally, the mothers could not “stand the embarrassment”, so they “put a stone in our hearts and just (murdered the kids).”

Hard to digest, so far? Try some more. The local District Magistrate Manoj Singh, told the press that what happened “was in accordance with local tradition.” The local Superintendent of Police Vijay Maurya, offered this: “none of those allegedly involved even considers it to be a crime.” Sonu’s father, Surender, told London’s Guardian newspaper later: “What we did was right from society’s point of view but wrong from the point of law.”

No photographs exist of the bodies of Vishal and Sonu, that I know of. If there were, would we remember?


Those were the first few paras from my Monday column in MidDay today; the rest of it is similar to my post About the photographs.


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Nothing to do with the current post - but am very interested in your reaction to the sealing drive going on in Delhi. Would love to compare your response to this drive with your response to mumbai slum demolition drive last year.

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