BALLA, India (Reuters) – Five armed men burst into the small room and courtyard at dawn, just as 21-year-old, 22-week pregnant, Sunita was drying her face on a towel.
They punched and kicked her stomach as she called out for her sleeping boyfriend “Jassa”, 22-year-old Jasbir Singh, witnesses said. When he woke, both were dragged into waiting cars, driven away and strangled.
Their bodies, half-stripped, were laid out on the dirt outside Sunita’s father’s house for all to see, a sign that the family’s “honor” had been restored by her cold-blooded murder.
A week later, the village of Balla, just a couple of hours drive from India’s capital New Delhi, stands united behind the act, proud, defiant almost to a man.
Among the Jat caste of the conservative northern state of Haryana, it is taboo for a man and woman of the same village to marry. Although the couple were not related, they were seen in this deeply traditional society as brother and sister.
“From society’s point of view, this is a very good thing,” said 62-year-old farmer Balwan Arya, sitting smoking a hookah in the shade of a tree in a square with other elders from the village council or panchayat. “We have removed the blot.”