The love between a high-caste girl and an untouchable young man, or Dalit, at the bottom of the Indian caste system, was the trigger for the premeditated murder of six people in Nepal, including the Dalit, according to a report by regional authorities on Sunday.
The five-member investigation team from the Karnali Provincial Assembly, the region in western Nepal where the incident occurred on 23 May, concluded that the love affair between the Dalit and the high-caste girl led to the killing.
“The root of the violent incident is the refusal of the girl’s upper-caste family to accept a Dalit as a bridegroom (for their daughter),” said Provincial Assembly Member Sita Nepali, who was part of the team that drafted the report after investigating what happened in the remote district of Rukum.
“The incident is clearly motivated by caste-based discrimination,” Nepali insisted, adding that “a crime of this magnitude” had to be “premeditated”.
It all started a year ago, when 21-year-old Navaraj BK, from the neighbouring Jajarkot district, met 17-year-old Sushma Malla during a sporting event in Rukum, and they fell in love. The relationship continued and in April they announced that they would get married, but the parents of the bride, who are of higher caste, rejected the young man as a Dalit.
However, far from giving up, on May 23rd the young man decided to set off for his bride’s house accompanied by about twenty family members and friends, but everything went wrong when about 70 of the young woman’s neighbours intercepted them on the way.
“The villagers chased the group, threw stones at them and physically beat them with sticks, long before they reached the Bheri River,” which divides the districts of Jajarkot and Rukum, where the dead bodies of the six victims were dumped, Nepali said.