Rama Kunwar, 30, had eloped with her lover eight years ago and returned to her village in western Rajasthan state on Friday, hoping her family had forgiven her for marrying against their wishes.
But her still enraged brothers barged in as she was visiting her in-laws’ house and dragged her outside before setting her on fire as other villagers watched.
“She thought that her parents would now accept her but as soon as her brothers came to know that she was in the village, they rushed to that house and dragged her out,” Brijran Singh, a senior administrative officer of Dungarpur district, told AFP.
“She cried for help but no one came to rescue her. They also conducted the funeral on the same night to destroy evidence,” he said.
Kunwar’s mother-in-law however alerted the police who reached the spot and doused the funeral pyre in order to collect evidence.
One of Kunwar’s brothers and six other men have been arrested. Authorities are still searching for an unspecified number of suspects, Singh added.
Honour killings – where couples are targeted because their families or communities disapprove of their relationships – have been carried out for centuries in India, especially in rural areas.
They are carried out by close relatives or village elders to protect what is seen as the family’s reputation and pride in a hereditary-based caste system.
India’s Supreme Court in 2011 ruled those involved in honour killings should face the death penalty.