No Haryana politician ready to take stand against khaps
By Ritu Sharma / ENS | Published: 14th October 2012 10:34 AM |
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi toured Haryana after a spate of rape incidents on the insistence of Member of Parliament Kumari Shelja, sources said.
“The message needed to go to the state functionaries that such incidents need to be dealt with iron hands. None of the state politicians are ready to take a stand against the Khaps lest they will invite their ire,” a Congress functionary said, on condition of anonymity.
Haryana has 35 per cent Jats — Hindu, Muslim and Sikh — 17 per cent Dalits and 6 per cent Brahmins. Dalits are Congress loyalists. Also, the Jats who so have far voted for former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal have now started supporting the Congress after the rise of Bhupinder Singh Hooda — a Jat himself. Areas of Rohtak, Sonepat and Jhajjar districts have a majority of Jats. Often, the Khap Panchayats’ extenstion of support to a candidate means the whole community will be voting for him. “Every religion says that when children attain puberty, they shall be married. If consensual sex with a 16-year-old is not rape, then why can’t girls be married at 16?” asked Sube Singh Samain to the gathering of around 160 representatives of various Khaps in the state. With modern values directly being beamed into their drawing rooms thourgh television, the Khap Panchayats are fighting to maintain their hold over society.
In recent times, Khaps have been criticised for their unwritten support to honour killings of couples in the State who dared to marry within the same “gotra” (clan) or village. Since 2010, Khaps have been up in arms demanding a prohibition on same ‘gotra’ marriages — a demand that was supported by Chautala and Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
Explaining the difficulties faced by the society due to such marriage alliances, Abhay Singh of Antil Khap said, “Our daughters go above us and marry the neighbour. Due to law and police, we cannot do anything to them. If they start living in our neighbour’s house after marriage tomorrow, they will ask for property as well. And if we do not give them their share, they will move court.” Head of Dahiya Khap Ranvir Singh also had a solution ready for rape incidents. “We should pay more attention to where our girls are going. Mobile phone is like a disease, it should be banned. And we should stop our girls from wearing jeans,” he decided. The Khap Panchayats latest suggestions came after the failure of Haryana government to deal with increasing incidents of rapes in the State — most of which were with minor girls, mainly from the Dalit community.
In attendance at the Mahapanchayat was Santosh Dahiya — one of the two women at the gathering. A professor at the Kurukshetra University and the President of Women Cell of Sarv Jat Khap Panchayat, Dahiya squarely blamed the media for the problem and for tarnishing the image of the Khaps. “Sonia Gandhi said Khaps are unconstitutional. I want to tell her they are not. It is our tradition. It is the media which is prosecuting the khaps.”