Petition to Conduct CBI Enquiry into Murder of Dr J A Mathan

Monday, 7 September 2009

Khap wrath: Lovers and their kin risk boycott outside Delhi


'Move on and Move out'-type of (in)Justice, Social boycott, Honour Killing, Exiling ---is a very popular method of Crude (in)justice by 'Wise' old men of Vices!
Khap, Shrap (curse) are nothing new.

Khap wrath: Lovers and their kin risk boycott
8 September 2009
DHARANA(Jhajjar): Love marriages are doomed in khap country, just 50 km outside the National Capital Region. Going by the complicated logic of Chhatar Singh Pardhan, 92, from Dubaldhan village, Jhajjar. Going by the complicated logic of the feudal lords who rule here, the young must find love much beyond the boundaries of their village.

Ravinder and Shilpa are a case in point. On July 24, a khap panchayat banished his entire family from the village. Their crime: Ravinder is a Gehlot from Dharana; Shilpa is a Kadyan from Siwah in Panipat. The Kadyan khap panchayat ruled out marriage between the two gotras because they were kin. How? Because Ravinder’s family lives in the same village as Shilpa’s extended family!

Sociologist D R Chaudhary explains: “Those living in khaps are not allowed to marry in the same gotra, or even in any gotra from the same village or neighbouring villages. Given the skewed sex ratio in these areas, marrying off children has become quite difficult.”

The ruling that banished Ravinder’s family came just 24 hours after the brutal killing of Ved Pal Mor. He was lynched by the villagers of Singhwal in the presence of the police. Mor’s crime was to have married a girl from the same gotra. They were just the latest in a long line of couples who offended khap propriety. In June, a khap panchayat forced Manoj and Babli to drink pesticide. A high court order gave the couple police protection but it was not enough. That same month, another couple, Anita and Sonu, were lured back to their village in Rohtak and stabbed to death in public.

Ravinder was luckier. Under pressure from the khap, he tried to commit suicide but fortunately failed. His family eventually left for a relative’s house in another village, only to return with security cover. The sarv khap mahapanchayat, which assembled on August 9, scaled down the punishment — permanent expulsion for the couple and three months for Ravinder’s father. Fines were slapped on his two uncles, Naseeb Singh and Ved Prakash, and his parents-in-law. Today, Ravinder and his bride live in Delhi. They would need a police escort if they ever want to return. Naseeb Singh, an armyman, says there’s more to it than meets the eye. Gehlot migrants came here generations ago, he says.

“Today, we are around 100 families. Our family owns 100 bighas of land in the village. Maybe the Kadyans want to reclaim ownership.”

But Chhatar Singh Pradhan, 92, head of the Kadyan khap panchayat, denies this. “We just want to protect our bhaichara (brotherhood) and its maryada (honour). We don’t order killings and executions,” he says.

But can the democratically elected panchayats do nothing to blunt the influence of khaps? Ranbir Singh is a consultant at the Haryana Institute of Rural Development in Nilokheri (Karnal). He says the khaps’ strength lies in the weakness of panchayati raj institutions. “Functionally and financially disempowered, the panchayats can’t challenge the authority of khaps.”

Jaibir Singh, sarpanch of Dharana concedes that his panchayat’s role is marginal. “Such a big dispute happened and I was not even called to attend the meetings. Even if we go by the caste-clan system, the marriage wasn’t illegal,” he says.

For its part, the state government grants them legitimacy. Its website reads: “Khap Panchayats... would be requested to use their influence in combating various social evils.” Even CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has defended them, saying they’re needed in times of crisis.

But Ranbir Singh says the khap panchayats’ increasing assertiveness is a sign of the identity crisis within the Jat community. “Their landholdings are fragmenting and many fear that they would lose their zamindar status.”

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