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Crime Patrol: Triple Murder in Wazirpur, Delhi (Episode 34 on 20th August 2011)

The Inside Story

Triple Murder in Wazirpur, Delhi

Shobha and Monica were cousins who walked to school together in Wazirpur, a once-rural village now overtaken by the sprawling suburbs of northern Delhi. They were each shot twice in the head last Sunday evening, along with Monica's husband Kuldeep. The murderers were Shobha's brother, Mandeep, Monica's brother, Ankit, and a local boy known to them both.

All six of those involved in the murders were living on frontiers: between their working-class neighbourhood and the adjacent upmarket suburb, between the increasingly cosmopolitan Indian capital and its deeply conservative hinterland, and between the crushing poverty of their parents' childhoods and the relative wealth of their own. Caste, traditional authority, and arranged marriage clashed with aspirations to Bollywood-style romance, and the age of all those involved was significant, according to Professor Surinder Jodhka of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The spark for the killing appears to have been the disappearance of Shobha's sister with her own "boyfriend". Shobha herself had previously run away with a man. She had come back home alone, but the damage had been done. The murderers acted alone, albeit having grown up steeped in a culture of honour, patriarchal authority,and violent retribution for transgression. The social situation is volatile, and the marriage market is tight, causing huge problems. Women also "marry up," leaving more than a third of lower-caste men without wives, said Prem Chowdhry, a respected historian and researcher.

After the killings, the three Wazirpur men fled in a borrowed car, first to Ghaziabad and then to the spiritual centre of Rishikesh, where they threw the homemade murder weapon into the waters of the Ganges. Hours later, they were arrested. "Honour killings" are not uncommon in India, but few reveal the underlying causes as the triple murder in Wazipur. The investigation is ongoing, and the police are examining all aspects of the case to bring the perpetrators to justice.


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