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The Love Commandos on JMAN.tv - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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Every day in India, young sons and daughters are beaten or killed for rejecting the caste system and falling in love across these strict boundaries. These acts dishonour not only the family but the whole village, and can result in brutal punishments, even death. But in Delhi a remarkable group of men calling themselves 'The Love Commandos' are working day and night to prevent non-consensual arranged marriages and vicious honour killings.

“The girl has been thrown in the car and is being taken to an unknown place. I don’t know whether she will survive or not”. Delhi’s Love Commandos, a voluntary service run by Sanjoy Sachdev and Harsh Malhotra, receive daily calls reporting such tales of abuse. Even the Commandos themselves are often threatened. Co-founder Sanjoy calmly listens as a disembodied voice mutters, “listen Mr Sachdev. Just prepare yourself. Very soon you will be leaving this world”. But the Commandos take these threats in their stride. "This is a jungle and someone has to roar. This is why we two madmen started. Now we have more madmen working with us!"

India's ancient caste system dictates that people only marry within their social group. Marrying for love is still seen by many as an irrelevant Western concept. Yet the Love Commandos have a profound belief in the purity of love and are determined to combat the archaic brutality of the caste system, and the village councils who sanction honour killings. Institutional support for honour killings is stronger than the Commandos first realised. Defense lawyer AP Singh, who deals with family dispute cases, is happy to declare that “if my daughter or sister tried to have premarital relations then I would pour petrol on her and set her on fire”.

The Love Commandos have a network of secret shelters hidden throughout Delhi and run a helpline, answering hundreds of calls 24/7. At these shelters the couples can not only hide but also be legally married. One such couple is Nishan and Sindhu. Sindhu was kidnapped by her family, who tried to force her to poison herself. She was released after the Commandos repeatedly called and threatened to tell the press; her grandfather is a prominent local politician. “My parents, they don’t care about happiness, the only thing they care about is pride”, Sindhu explains.

The men have a bold dream, and have faith that “love sees no caste, no religion, no colour. It is love that will create a casteless society in our great country”. But their job is getting harder as Hindu fundamentalism and heavy moral policing are on the rise in India, under the hard line Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is a long way to go before couples can even get away with a kiss in public.

A stirring film about love and family, and a powerful insight into the social and political turmoil in contemporary India.

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