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My Best Friend’s Inter-Caste Love Story Met A Tragic End

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IJMEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #ViolenceNoMore, a campaign by International Justice Mission and Youth Ki Awaaz to fight against daily violence faced by marginalised communities. Speak out against systemic violence by publishing a story here.

We know very well that we have been deceived for decades by self-styled religious leaders. They are interfering in all matters. We’re in the 21st century. We know that the earth is not flat. We aren’t narcissistic enough to think that the sun revolves around the earth. When we don’t understand something, we try to science the shit out of it. In today’s world, people can’t fool us to meet their selfish ends.

When it was time to learn to love, they taught us how to hate.

Someone might come to us saying, “Mark your houses with saffron flags and count the Muslims in your neighbourhood. We may need to do something soon.

Here is a story about two lovers from a different caste.

It was a midsummer night, and it was very hot inside my room. There was no electricity. Drenched in sweat, I was about to fall asleep when my phone vibrated several times. I rejected the calls without looking at my mobile screen. Finally, I checked my phone. It was my friend, Rahul. I took the call. His voice was full of fear. An upper-caste young man, he wanted to marry his girlfriend Priya, who was from a ‘lower’ caste. His parents denied him the right to marry Priya, after a self-styled godman warned them, “If Rahul marries Priya, then you will lose him forever.”

I was about to convince my parents,” Rahul said on the phone, “but every attempt goes in vain. My parents are too afraid after hearing all this shit from.” He was crying.

Are your eyes only meant for tears?” I asked him. “You need to fight against this. Do you understand?

Rahul replied: “I have no time to fight. Next Sunday they are going to marry me to another woman called Radikha.”

He was broken. He wasn’t able to talk with me properly.

I tried to comfort him, telling him that all he needed to do was reject the marriage proposal. “You can’t deceive Priya.” Here, I tried to motivate him with a quote I had once heard: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I told him to trust in God. “He has a better plan for you.”

Priya’s family is afraid as my parents had sent police to her house,” Rahul confided in me. “She is too weak to handle it all.”

Finally, he disconnected the call, saying we would meet again if God willed it.

I was not able to sleep well, thinking about my best friend. He was always there for me to solve my problems.
I remembered when Rahul and Priya first fell in love. Knowing that this world is a cruel place, I remember asking him if marriage was possible because they were both from different castes. He replied, “Rishtey khoon ke nahi ahsaas ke hote hai (Relationships aren’t about blood, they’re about emotions).” Their love life was so good, and they loved each other unconditionally. There was not a single reasonable demand that could deny their right to love.

When I woke up the next morning, I tried to call Rahul, but his phone was switched off. After sometime, I tried to call him again. I received a recorded message: “The number you have dialed is switched off. Please try again after sometime.” It made me really worried. The day after that, his mobile phone was still switched off. And in the days after that, I still heard the same message. “The number you have dialed is switched off. Please try again after sometime.

It was Sunday afternoon. My phone was ringing. Instantly I reached for my pocket. I thought it would be Rahul. But it was not him. When I called him for the umpteenth time, his phone was still switched off. I sobbed.

I remembered that Rahul had told me about his marriage, which was scheduled for that very day. I ran towards Rahul’s home. The atmosphere of his home was full of tension. I heard there that Rahul and Priya ran away from the city. His relatives had taken up guns and swords. Rahul’s dad came out and ordered his cousins to kill Rahul and Priya whenever they saw them.

Two days after I went to his house, my a friend told me that Rahul and Priya were killed mercilessly on the main road in front of a crowd.

Editor’s Note: Stories like these exist across India. While our laws give us the right to choose our partner, society still largely refuses to accept inter-caste marriages. Often, when families take matters into their own hands, the punishment for marrying someone of another caste can even be death which result in honour killings. These ‘honour killings’ saw a massive spike of 792% since 2014 (NCRB data). And this is only one form of everyday caste-based violence in marriage. Raise your voice against these different acts of violence. Publish a story here, and we will carry your solutions to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Featured Image source: Flickr.
What policy reforms do you think would help eliminate instances of daily violence and improve access to justice in India? Send us your suggestions and we’ll take a manifesto to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Let’s spark the change together!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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