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The Madras High Court recently pulled up the Tamil Nadu administration in a scathing denouncement of “honour” killings. It lambasted the administration for its stark apathy in such cases.

Petitions had been filed by people from Dalit colonies in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. The colonies had been attacked on November 7, 2012 by upper caste groups. The trigger for the attacks was the suicide of the father of an upper caste girl who had married a Dalit boy against her father’s wishes. The Dalit boy was later mysteriously found dead near railway tracks. Dalit homes were attacked and 326 houses were set on fire in the district.

According to media reports, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul and Justice Mahadevan found administrative lapses by the Tamil Nadu government which had not controlled the outbreak of violence. The court demanded an affidavit from the government on what was being done to fix the lapses. It also wanted to know what punishment had been given to those responsible for the lapses.

Honour killings, especially when young people from different communities try to marry or marry, are rampant in the subcontinent. In this regard, the court commented: “In a democratic country like ours, we are even unwilling to give the major boy and girl the right to determine whom they want to marry. Not only that, life and property are lost in the meaningless fury of one community against the other, reflecting a sorry state of affairs of the society”.

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