Panipat: For three years, 23-year-old Neeraj Verma and 22-year-old Komal were in a relationship — their families living barely 3 kilometres apart at Panipat in Haryana.
On 24 November, they took a big step, getting married at a local court in Panipat in the presence of a few of Neeraj’s family members. There was no one from Komal’s family at the wedding.
The new year ushered in tragedy for the couple. On the evening of 1 January, barely 500 metres from his home, Neeraj was stabbed 16 times, in yet another case of ‘honour killing’ in Haryana.
Neeraj was a Sunar, categorised as a backward class in Haryana, while Komal is a Dalit.
On 3 January, Panipat Police arrested two accused — Komal’s brother Vijay (19) and her cousin Pawan (21).
The police claimed the two have confessed to the crime, and that they have CCTV footage and eyewitnesses accounts to corroborate the charges.
“The accused said that their sister brought shame to the family by marrying against their will,” Panipat DSP Virender Saini told ThePrint. “This infuriated them to kill Neeraj.”
The crime, another blot on Haryana’s chequered history with so-called honour killing, has now left a grieving widow calling for her brothers to be hanged, one shattered family left to pick up the pieces and another defiant by the turn of events.
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Komal always knew Neeraj as her brother Vijay’s best friend. But now as she sits at her husband’s home in Panipat, she has one persistent demand — her brothers should receive the death penalty.
“Hang my brothers. They have killed my shona (Neeraj),” she said.
Komal said her family was infuriated by her wedding. She alleged that her cousin Pawan came to her house and threatened to make her a widow just hours before Neeraj was murdered.
“Main uske sath aisa karunga ki tu poori zindagi royegi (I will do something to him that will make you cry forever),” Komal alleged that Pawan told her.
Earlier that day, Komal said, her husband was excited about the new year and left for work at a handloom store in the city. “Get ready at 6 o’clock in the evening. We will go out to celebrate our new life and new year,” she said, recalling “Neeraj’s words”.
Komal said she called up her husband once Pawan came home, but his phone went unanswered. “Someone from the hospital finally picked up the call and said he is no more,” she said.
Komal also alleged that her family subjected her to physical and mental abuse over the relationship.
“My family threw me out of the house two years ago. I went to Hisar to live on my own. I got myself employed…,” she said. “During the last two years, my family spread rumours that I was happily married. During that hardship, Neeraj held my hand like family.”
‘Killed in the middle of the market, no one helped’
Neeraj was murdered just 500 metres away from where he lived.
When ThePrint visited his home Sunday, his blood-soaked clothes could be seen still lying in a corner.
His father Gulshan Verma held up the post-mortem report that said Neeraj was stabbed 16 times. “He was killed in the middle of the market. And no one helped,” Gulshan said.
The day he was killed, Neeraj was accompanied by his younger brother Yogesh Verma.
“Neeraj complained of back pain and insisted that I go on the bike and that he would walk home,” Yogesh told ThePrint. “As he didn’t get back, I went back to the dhaba where I had left him. I reached Bhavna Chowk and saw a crowd. Someone was murdered.”
Deepak, 47, who runs a medical store at Bhavna Chowk in Panipat, had heard Neeraj’s screams.
“I heard the screams of bachao bachao (help, help). As I came out of my shop, two young boys came running towards me and disappeared into one of the streets. They had a knife,” he said. “A few metres away, a young man fell to the ground. He was bleeding profusely.”
Neeraj’s family claimed the two cousins had attacked him earlier too and that the police allegedly took no action on their complaints.
“He was attacked with a knife a day before his wedding but because of the layers of his jacket, he survived,” one of Neeraj’s relatives told ThePrint. “After that, both Komal and Neeraj went to the Mahila police thana to register a case.”
“They made us sit for hours. We told them about the attack and possible threats. They assured us that our complaint has been registered,” Komal said. “After a few days, Neeraj got a call from the thana, but he was one of the breadwinners in the family, so he could not afford to skip going to work. We thought things would fall in place and told the police that we are safe.”
DSP Virender Saini, however, said the police did take the case seriously. “We thoroughly investigated the case,” he said.
‘Why didn’t they kill her instead of the boy?’
At Komal’s home, the family is clear on where the blame for their situation lies.
“No one understands my pain. My son is in jail and my daughter ran away and got married despite our opposition,” Komal’s mother Sunita Devi said.
Asked if she had any regrets, Devi said, “Kisi ke ghar ka chirag bujh gaya. Kisko bura nahin lagega? But I say instead of murdering that boy, I say, why didn’t they kill her?”
An elderly lady interrupted with a jibe, “Wo pata naheen kya-kya gul khilayegi. Us ladke ko marwane ke baad ab doosra number kiska hoga (She is of questionable character. Who knows who she will find after Neeraj).”
Komal’s older brother, Ajay Kataria, added that the family didn’t really have a beef with Neeraj. “He was a good person. I have known him for years,” Kataria said. “The only problem was why did he befriend us and start a relationship with our sister. This must have hurt Vijay.”
Speaking about the case, Panipat child protection officer Rajni Gupta said the crime was reflective of the patriarchy in the region. “In a feudal and patriarchal setup, if a girl rebels to marry on her own, she is forced to come back and file FIR against the groom and his family,” she said. “In Komal’s case, she took a stand. This infuriated her brothers. To teach her a lesson, this seemed an easy way.”
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Haha, so called the lowest of lower caste by the govt and media is running for caste pride😂😂
Today they are the most powerful
These annadata farmers now can’t even do honour killings? Such fascism in country.
Hang to death. End of story.
Both Punjab and Haryana are misogynistic states of India.
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