Longreads

At Harper’s,Mansi Choksi tells the story of Neetu and Dawinder, a young couple from rural India who flee to a safe house run by the Love Commandos. The young couple wanted a love marriage — as opposed to an arranged marriage, which is still common in India — so they paid the Commandos to perform a marriage ceremony, register the union with the government, and protect them from physical harm at the hands of enraged family members incensed by a marriage against caste tradition. Love Commando services are expensive, and they also exact a different and predatory price: young couples are expected to run errands, walk the bomb-sniffing dog, cook, clean, and keep house for their would-be protectors while under their watch.

Across the Indian countryside, romantic relationships can easily become ensnared by taboos. Sometimes, the consequences are fatal. In 2007, the bodies of Manoj and Babli, lovers from…

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