SURREY – Members of Surrey’s Indo-Canadian community, including a large number from the Dalit community, hosted a candle light vigil at the Surrey’s Holland Park in memory of Harwinder Singh Saroya, a victim of honor killing in Punjab, India last Saturday. His only crime was that he loved a girl from different caste than the one he belonged and such a dare act was jut not acceptable to the family of the girl. The day for the candle light was also recognized by the UN as the International Day for the Human Rights.
The act of honor killing, or as it is also known as an act of crime is no longer legal in India. However, the practice continues not just in Punjab, but throughout India. Recent evidence shows that this act also occurs in other countries such as Pakistan, the UK, the US, and Canada and it is not limited to just one religious group or one community.
In India, while Article 21 of the Constitution provides commitment that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedures established by law, the practice of honor killing continues to exist.
Recognizing the scope of this issue and to strengthen its means to address this heinous practice, The Law Commission of India has proposed a new legislation, “The Endangerment of Life and Liberty Act (2011). Although this legislation will provide additional resources and strengthen means for the judiciary, whether it will be implemented successfully or not is a concern.
Surrey resident Gurnek Bangar, brother-in-law of Saroya, who was instrumental with spearheading the vigil states that even though the local police has now accepted the complaint, no one has yet been charged or arrested.
At the vigil, a number of representatives of Canadian organizations denounced the practice of honor killing and urged the Punjab Government to ensure the offenders are arrested and confidence in the justice system is restored.
Participants also paid tributes to other victims of honor killing in Canada.