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Indian man who killed daughter for 'honour' has no regrets

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File picture shows people gathering at a public rally at Kondal village in the Palwal district of the Indian state of Haryana on March 1, 2009. (AFP/File)

The Indian father who killed his daughter and beheaded her boyfriend after they eloped has declared he feels no remorse over the "honour killings", media reports said Friday.

The young couple from India's northern state of Haryana were beaten to death Wednesday by the father and other relatives of the 20-year-old woman "to protect the family and village honour", police said.

After killing the man, 22, using sticks, the attackers beheaded him. They also tried to burn the woman's body but were stopped by police.

The woman's family disapproved of the three-year relationship because the couple belonged to the same caste and were "considered brother and sister", police said.

The father, who has since been taken into custody, showed no signs of remorse over the brutal killings as he spoke to local reporters in Haryana's Rohtak district.

The woman's mother and uncle have also been arrested and police said they were searching for a brother.

"I have done nothing wrong. I have cleaned up a social wrong," the father, Billu Pehlwan, a dog breeder by profession, was quoted as saying by the Times of India and other newspapers.

The NDTV network showed him saying: "I would do it again. I have no regrets."

India has for centuries seen killings that often target young couples who have relationships which are disapproved of by their families, clans or communities, particularly in traditional rural areas.

The killings are carried out by close relatives or village elders to protect what is seen as the family's reputation and pride.

The dead woman was studying to be an art teacher while her boyfriend was a student at a local college.

They were on their way to the capital New Delhi, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Rohtak, when they were tracked down and hauled back to their village.

The deaths were slammed by women's groups who said political leaders must step in to stem the tide of honour killings.

"We need a whole debate on tradition, on honour. This girl was lynched by her own family, the boy was beheaded," Subhashini Ali, head of the All India Democratic Women's Association and a communist politician, told NDTV network.

"Why are the netas (politicians) staying silent over this gruesome incident?"

There are no official figures on honour killings, but the association says its research shows about 1,000 such cases nationwide a year.

India's Supreme Court said in 2010 that the death penalty should be given to those found guilty of honour killings, calling the crime a barbaric "slur" on the nation.

Last year, five members of a family were sentenced to death for the torture and "brutal" murder of a young couple from Delhi in another such "honour killing".

Autopsy reports revealed the couple had been tied with ropes, beaten with metal pipes and electrocuted.

Many cases go unreported, with police and local politicians turning a blind eye to what some see as an acceptable form of traditional justice by families seeking to protect what they see as their honour.