This is a story of the power of the meek,of people who did not lose their dignity,of their ability to play fair under adverse situations, said Chander Suta Dogra as she turned the pages of her first book,Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story (Penguin,Rs 299),at a launch function organised in Chandigarh recently.
In 2007,Manoj and Babli were brutally murdered for falling in love,eloping and marrying though they belonged to the same caste. Their bodies were thrown into a canal,and the crime had the approval of the khap of their village Karora in Haryanas Kaithal district. Flexing muscle and money,Bablis family manipulated the police and did not allow investigations to reach any conclusion. Ostracised,Manojs family could not even perform his funeral rites.
The khap panchayats have allegedly ordered many honour killings and Haryana has become synonymous with these crimes,with the police being seen as mere spectators. Except in this case. Manojs widowed mother Chandrapati and his sister Seema decided to seek justice for the couple,regardless of threats,and were supported by women activists and the local media.
A blend of fact and fiction,with real stories,court recordings,FIRs and video recordings,personal interviews with the families of Manoj and Babli,the hostility notwithstanding,has made the narrative both descriptive and chilling and took Dogra three years to complete. With the smallest details of the case presented in the book,its left to the readers to draw conclusions,as the landmark judgment of death sentence for the culprits gives the fight an honourable conclusion.