Indian police said today they had arrested five members of the same family for allegedly murdering a young woman in the latest in a spate of suspected "honour" killings in northern India. Sangeeta, 20, who had married a lower-caste man against her family's wishes, was taken to her ancestral village in Uttar Pradesh state, where police said she was strangled to death, then burned. Her remains were then allegedly scattered in a field.
"We have collected her remains for a DNA sample," a local police officer told AFP. "Our initial report clearly shows her being strangled by a scarf." He added that five people from her family had been arrested. Sangeeta had secretly got married in February to her boyfriend, Ravinder Kataria, who was from a lower caste. The couple lived apart before informing their respective families of the marriage in April. Police say they suspect Sangeeta was killed earlier this month.
Most "honour killings" in India involve young couples who dare to marry outside their caste and are killed by relatives in an attempt to protect the family's reputation and pride. A report this week by the global rights monitor Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to crack down on village councils who order such murders and local politicians who often turn a blind eye. There are no official figures on honour killings, although a recent independent study suggested that as many as 900 such murders were being committed every year in the northern states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.