The handing over of the couple to the Panchayat members and leaving their fate to them by the police officer will amount to indifference and dereliction of duty as he knows well that in a stratified society anything like inter-caste marriages between lower caste and upper caste adults that violates the established traditions is taken as an outrage and assault against the collective honour of the society and panchayats in such cases lose rationality, become overly violent and unreasonable. Leaving the couple that seeks police protection in such a situation to the rationality of panchayat at least when the issue is driven by anger, shock and revenge will amount to throwing away human lives to sure damage, may be death, in extreme case.
Regarding the second option, providing protection to the couple from the violent crowd will fall under the legitimate jurisdiction and duty of the police officer, but advising the adults in question or persuading them to surrender before the panchayat and say sorry would be against the freedom and liberty of the adults. This should be left on their personal choice and wisdom. They couple being adults, have the right to decide whom they want to marry. Adopting this option would be against their right to choose their partner.
The third option fulfills both the criteria- the criteria of duty as well as role morality that is seeking justice and fairness. It is, however, advice and persuasion, where the officer’s jurisdiction ends and he cannot force the panchayat to accept the adults’ decision and spare them to live the life of their choice.
Although the third option of keeping the couple under police protection and trying to pacify the crowd and persuading them to allow the two adults to decide about their lives on their own seems the best, it may or may not solve the problem. The solution to the problem may require intervention of judiciary, intervention and arbitration of civil society and human rights groups or institutions, which fall beyond the purview of the police officer.
In such a circumstance the police officer needs to provide security to the life of couple as long as other channels are activated and a solution is sought by taking the panchayat in good faith. Also, he needs to take into consideration the anger and rage of the people who may even turn violent. Trying to pacify the crowd is important. Also, they should be made to understand that the adults have a right to decide about their lives as per their choice.