Report: India Couple Beaten to Death; Remains Burned

Villagers in northern India beat a young couple to death and burned their dismembered remains after a local council ordered the killing, saying the pair were too closely related, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The couple — Mahesh, 20 and his girlfriend Gudia, 19 — lived in neighboring villages near Agra, 155 miles southeast of New Delhi, and fled their homes when their relationship was discovered.

Their families tracked them down and brought them back to her village, Naharra, where the council, known as a panchayat, told them to end the relationship because they were too closely related, The Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

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The paper did not provide details of the relationship, but said Gudia lived with Mahesh's uncle and suggested she was Mahesh's cousin.

The council deemed the relationship to be incestuous, and when the two refused to break it off, it ordered them killed.

The couple was beaten to death by a mob Tuesday and their bodies were dismembered and set on fire, the paper reported, adding that police were investigating 12 people believed to be connected to the deaths.

Authorities were not immediately available to confirm the report.

Village councils wield great influence in rural India and marriages are usually arranged by families in keeping with local customs. Rural couples, even if they are not related, may face ostracism or even death if they choose their own partners.