The Resurrection of a ‘Murder Victim’

Inter-caste marriage ends in honour killing 

screamed the headlines in The Times Of India news report yesterday. 

The mutilated body of a 23-year-old youth, Ajit Saini, was found a week after the murder. The poor youth 

was brutally killed by the brother of the Jat girl he loved and claimed to have married. 

SP Praveen Kumar said the brother, Anuj, was opposed to the alliance and has told police that 

“he could not take it anymore and that the two had crossed all limits”.  

  The Hindu stated that 

The girl’s brother, reportedly confessed to killing the boy, as his affair with his sister compromised their family honour. 

Today’s newspapers tell us that this was the honour killing that wasn’t. 

Apparently the very much alive couple read the news reports of Saini’s murder and 

“decided to go to the police station and tell the police that they are alive.” 

Deciding beforehand that the girl’s brother was guilty, Saini’s relatives identified ‘his body’ with no forensic evidence, and the police accepted this identification. The police also insist that the girl’s brother, Anuj confessed to ‘his crime’. However- 

“I confessed under pressure from the police. I wanted to protect my family,” said Anuj Tomar, Anshu Tomar’s brother. 

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Update- 11.05.2010.-

 Muzaffarnagar police sent Anshu Tomar to a women protection home in Saharanpur after seeking the court’s permission while Ajit is being interrogated. The police also got a medical examination conducted on Anshu to ascertain her age and whether she had been raped. The report is awaited.

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Honour killings do, unfortunately, still take place in our country. The mindset of society must change, regarding taboos of caste, gotra, social standing, etc. And those guilty must certainly be punished. I would advocate for the harshest punishment for those guilty of murder in the name of ‘family honour’. 

However, is it too much to ask that people innocent of murder NOT be arrested for murder, and confessions NOT extracted from them, by who knows what means? 

We can understand that the relatives of the so-called ‘murdered’ boy, want the relatives of the girl punished for opposing the marriage. But that does not give them the right to have them arrested for a murder that never happened! 

Is a ‘confession’ sufficient to have a suspect arrested? Do the police not need any actual evidence? Since murder trials run on for years in India, a person thus arrested may spend years in prison before, and if, he is judged innocent at the end of his trial. 

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Just yesterday I read about the case of a ‘murdered’ man in China who reappeared after ten years. His unfortunate ‘murderer’-

 had served 10 years of a 29-year sentence after confessing to killing Zhao Zhenshang in a hatchet fight in central China’s Henan province, the China Daily reported this weekend.

Convictions in the Chinese court system are strongly dependent on confessions, motivating police to use force to get a confession and close the case. 

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I wonder how many such ‘murderers’ are languishing in Indian prisons after having ‘confessed’ before the police?  

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27 thoughts on “The Resurrection of a ‘Murder Victim’”

  1. Goodnesss! But why am I not surprised! Our police is fully capable of forcing ‘confessions’ out of people to serve their purpose. Thank god the couple was alive. What would have been worse is if somebody else had actually killed them and the blame had gone on another person! It is so sad and so shocking.. But given the fact that there is no real accountability with the police – what else can we expect..

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  2. We say we are developing fast. No – wrong. WE are only hiring technology from abroad And using and guessing we are developing fast. WE need awareness more speedy than technology advancement. Correct or Incorrect?

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  3. First let me appreciate your mango tree…fresh and beautiful! Now, will read the post!

    This is too shocking, I am reading this news for the first time. We have heard that political people or people with good connection, do this kind of arrests to persons whom they want to clear out of their way, but in this case, what do the police gain? They just want to shut the case. Or is the brother a mad man? Did he dream of killing his sister?

    Many people who were arrested on suspicion like this, without any basis, spend their lives in prison for years and then when the judgement comes to set them free (like the Chinese case), what happens to the young years of the ‘suspects’, which were spent in jail, unnecessarily?

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  4. Thanks, Sandhya- though it is not my Mango tree. I took the photo on a recent trip. 🙂

    I was shocked, too, when I read the news this morning. It is true that honour killings do take place.

    But it seems that the media gives these type of news reports so much sensational publicity that even the police just assume it is an honour killing, when, in fact there is no one killed!

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  5. Its really shocking… I never known about this confession thing… I dont know then whats the need for post mortem… 😦
    Killing one for the pride of caste, creed and religion is a ritual in India… Isn’t it? Seems like these kind of thing is happening all over the world.. 😦 😦

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  6. this is ridiculous! And, now why are the police sending this poor girl off to determine if she has been raped or not?! Where is the context?! Are they going to torture the boyfriend now into confessing that he forced himself on her?!

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    1. Roshni, if the girl is still a minor, which however, according to media reports she is not, then it would be statutory rape. Even if it was consensual.

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  7. This is what happens when the media jumps in like a leech and starts giving judgments even before any legal proceedings have started.

    Then the police thinks its absolutely fine and easy peasy to get ‘confessions’ from innocent people rather than trying to launch a search party to find the missing people.

    The media happily gobbles it up.
    The police is happy(when are they anything else but?)
    The media goes to town crying about another murder most foul.

    TILL the ‘dead people’ surface.

    On the same note…the way our politicians are su[porting these khap panchayats is SHAMEFUL!
    Never thought I would see someone like Naveen Jindal supporting it.

    DISGUSTING!!!
    There is simply no excuse!

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    1. The Khaap Panchayat’s pronouncements, and politicians supporting them- this would be funny if it were not so outrageous. All for votes, it seems.

      There is a simple way to avoid these controversies, though- a Uniform Civil Code- so no religious ‘leaders’ could interfere.

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  8. Kavi– You mean jumping to conclusions by the police/sensationalisation by the media, or easy way to punish the girl’s family by the boy’s relatives? For either case, an efficient and swift judicial system would be the answer, I think. Whichever side was the wronged one would get proper justice….

    Renu– There was a time when people went to the police for help, not any more. 😦

    Kanagu– The police should not rely upon the confession of a prisoner- people confess falsely for any number of reasons.
    Yes, ‘honour killings’ are far too frequent in India. And people are not assured of getting justice. There was a controversial Supreme Court judgement regarding this-do read an earlier post of mine-Honour Killing

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  9. Sad state of affairs. One does not feel safe with the police in our country. And to think they can extract confessions like these. As you say, there must be so many in prison who have been framed/made to confess . A wasted life.

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    1. Yes, it is a sad state of affairs. Even if public opinion were against the girl’s relatives, they should not be framed by the police and the boy’s relatives, for a crime they did not commit!

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  10. It is a shocking story indeed. Looks like the since the police had a body, all that they needed was a ‘confession’, media present, headlines ready. This is the second case within a few days where so-called honour killings turned out to be something else. The media wants dramatic headlines and the police play along. Sometime I wonder whether there is more to it between the two than meets the eye.

    In this case, the confession would most probably have been found to be false, away from the cameras, because the body was of someone else. But none of us would have come to know.

    But, as you have observed, one can only imagine how many people are rotting in jails on the basis of false confessions extorted by the police – sometimes, I am sure, to protect someone else who paid a bribe.

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    1. There certainly appears to be a nexus between media and police- perhaps the resulting publicity would benefit both?

      And in this particular case there is a body- now unidentified. How convenient to blame the absconding boy’s family and ‘solve’ the case!

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    1. Very true! If the couple had not come forward, there would have been miscarriage of justice on both counts- arresting the brother for a crime he did not commit, and letting go the real murderer of the person whose body was found.

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