The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) on Thursday launched a campaign demanding a separate, and more stringent, law to deal with cases of ‘honour crimes’. The campaign was launched at Jantar Mantar by Neelam Katara, mother of Nitish Katara, who was burnt to death in an alleged honour killing case in 2002.
“I have been fighting the battle against the honour killing of my son for the last 13 years, and I have realised how important it is to have a separate law. Without it, people refuse to treat it as a large-scale problem and the perpetrators hide behind the word honour,” Neelam said.
The launch of the campaign — ‘Pass the bill, because honour kills’ — coincided with the death anniversary of freedom fighter Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, an officer of the Indian National Army. CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat, Supreme Court lawyer Kirti Singh and AIDWA general secretary Jagmati Sangwan were also present at the launch.
Karat said the BJP-led central government’s response to their demand will reveal its stand on the issue.
“Our experience has been bitter till now. We have found them siding with the khaps and those who uphold casteist views. Now we want to see where they stand,” she said.
Singh explained the features of the draft Bill prepared by AIDWA.
“First and foremost, we have argued that such cases should be immediately categorised as murder, so that there is no excuse of it being associated with ‘honour’. Secondly, the type of harassment that follows such crimes needs to be punishable by jail terms between one and 10 years, as per the degree of the crime… As per our Bill, if the police refuse to take action, they should be punished,” she said.