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Rajasthan couple defy panchayat, prefer death to separation

Barmer, April 30 (IANS) A newly-married couple in Rajasthan's Barmer district have requested the authorities to allow them to commit suicide, as they would rather die than be separated on the orders of their panchayat.

Khama and her husband Chatraram approached the district collector during a public hearing session Tuesday and urged him to permit them to end their lives as they would not be able to fulfil the orders of the panchayat in Bimda village of Barmer, over 550 km from Jaipur.


'What sort of ruling is this? Neither I nor my wife wants to be separated. We did not marry to be separated. We will prefer to die than accept this decision of the panchayat,' Chatraram told IANS.


'The only way out for us is to end our lives,' he said.


The couple have been staying together after marrying at an Arya Samaj temple last month. As relatives of Khama wanted her to marry someone else, they complained about her marriage to the panchayat, which ordered the couple to separate.


It is alleged that Khama's maternal uncle and brothers had taken Rs.500,000 from Rekha Ram, a resident of the same village, a few months ago with a promise that she would be married to him.


The caste panchayat ordered the couple to pay Rs.500,000 to Rekha Ram and sever her relationship with Chatraram and live with Rekha Ram. The panchayat also ruled that the couple would be killed if they failed to follow the orders.


The authorities have promised action.


'I have asked police to investigate the case. Action would be taken against the guilty,' said Gaurav Goyal, the district collector.


Just a week back, on April 22, a diktat by the panchayat had forced five people to commit suicide in Bajna Khurd village of Karauli district in Rajasthan.


Gajendra Jat, a farmer, along with his wife Heero Devi, their six-year-old son Rohit, and nine-year-old daughter Chanchal and neighbour Kunwar Devi committed suicide by jumping before a speeding train.


Gajendra in his suicide note alleged that he took this extreme step as the panchayat held him guilty of having illicit relationship with Kunwar Devi, and imposed a penalty of Rs.50,000 on him.


'I do not have the money to pay. Neither I am guilty of the charge. The only way out for me is to commit suicide,' he wrote in the note.


Several killings at the behest of khap panchayats, or caste councils, in Haryana have left the nation shocked.


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