India

Bhawna Yadav: Small dreams of Delhi 'honour killing' victim

Abhishek Seth, 24, and Bhawna Yadav, 21: File photo Image copyright other
Image caption Bhawna and Abhishek married in a temple on 12 November without informing their families

Police in the Indian capital, Delhi, have arrested the parents of college student Bhawna Yadav who was allegedly killed for marrying a man against her family's wishes. Ankur Jain of BBC Hindi meets the woman's husband and neighbours to piece together her story.

Narrow lanes, meat shops and offices of property consultants make up the Bharat Vihar colony - a rather ugly neighbour of Delhi's middle-class Dwarka area.

This is where Bhawna Yadav lived with her parents.

She did not let her humble background hold her back from hoping for a better life.

But Bhawna's dreams were shattered when she was allegedly strangled to death, three days after she married her boyfriend, 24-year-old Abhishek Seth.

Her parents - her property consultant father Jagmohan Yadav and mother Savitri - were against her marrying outside their caste.

Wish list

Bhawna's husband is now trying to come to terms with her death.

"She had small dreams. Her parents wanted to get her married after school but she wanted to wear jeans and shirts and go to college," says Mr Seth.

"She managed to get into Venkateswara College, one of Delhi's finest. On top of her wish list after our marriage was to taste wine and go to a beach for our honeymoon."

Image copyright other
Image caption Abhishek says Bhawna wanted to wear modern clothes and go to college

Mr Seth, who works at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House) in Delhi, says Bhawna's parents had arranged for her to be engaged on 22 November "to a man she had last met when she was six years old".

So the couple decided to get married before the engagement.

"I knew my family would accept Bhawna once we got married. We knew her family would resist a bit, but we thought they would eventually give in," Mr Seth says.

"I remember the day we went shopping for our wedding. When she tried on the wedding dress, she was dancing in the shop.

"I wish she would come back. She was a fighter and can't go away like this."

'No remorse'

The couple married in a temple on 12 November without informing their families.

They were together only for a few hours before Bhawna's parents took her away, saying they would arrange a "grand wedding" for the couple in a few days.

Police say the parents have confessed to the crime.

They said they drove her body to their village in Rajasthan, 150km (93 miles) from Delhi, and cremated her, a police official said.

For many Indians, marriage outside the caste is taboo. While there are no statistics, one study estimated hundreds of people are killed by their families every year for marrying against their wishes.

But Bhawna's murder has shocked many because such so-called 'honour crimes' rarely involve middle-class educated families in big cities.

Mr Seth wants her parents to be hanged for the crime.

"They have no remorse and should be given the death sentence," he says.

"I still can't understand the honour for which they killed their daughter, my wife."

Scared

Delhi police official Suman Goyal says the parents strangled Bhawna on Sunday morning.

Image copyright Other
Image caption The couple were together only for a few hours after their wedding

"They called a family friend and told him that she was bitten by a snake and needed to be taken to their ancestral village for treatment. They wrapped her body in a blanket and drove for three hours and cremated her," Ms Goyal says.

Most of the family's neighbours don't want to discuss the incident and shut their doors upon seeing a journalist. And those who do speak, defend Bhawna's parents.

Hargyan Singh, who often met Jagmohan Yadav to share a smoke, says: "He was a religious man and every evening sat outside his house smoking a hookah.

"The girl [Bhawna] must have done something really bad. But there are a lot of snakes in the colony, she might have been bitten by one. Police might be framing the parents."

At Bhawna's college, the news of her alleged murder has left her peers scared.

"My parents can never do something like this, but such incidents leave an impression on them too," says Sumiran.

Another student who did not want to be named, expressed despair at the case.

"Why isn't India able to rise above this whole caste thing? How does marrying in the same caste guarantee a good marriage?"

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC