Haryana’s biggest khap panchayat has become bit modern by changing its strict rules regarding marriage. The panchayat has opened its doors to inter-caste marriage and marriage within the radius of 42 villages. But you have to take the consent of your parents. Still marriage within the same village, same gotras and adjoining villages is prohibited. Earlier inter-caste, inter-village and marriage between same gotras were not allowed. With this step panchayat feels that taking bride from other village is better than taking from the other state. Khap Panchayat has taken the decision to keep running the old customs.
In the past few years news related to intra gotra and inter village marriages of Jat Community and brutal killing of couples have come into picture. Such a removal of restrictions will help in reducing the number of social wrongs like honour killing in such villages.
Brief introduction to khap and khap panchayat
Khap is actually the unification of a few villages on the basis of caste and geography. Initially it was started by the upper caste Jats in the 14th century to unite their power. But according to some historians the system was present even in 600 AD. As per the original thoughts all boys and girls within the same khap are siblings and hence marriage among them is not possible.
The khap is governed by khap panchayat and prevalent in most of the parts of Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan. These community groups consist of elderly men from Jat community. More than 25% of the population of Haryana is Jat.
What khap panchayat do?
Prior to proper judicial system in India many issues were resolved through Khap panchayat. But many experts believe that with time khap panchayats have become less transparent. Most of the cases are solved by taking traditional values in account.
Nowadays these have come out as quasi-judicial bodies which generally give harsh punishments on the basis of old traditions and customs. The couples out of intra village marriage and so on are forced to live like siblings and in most of the cases they are either killed or forced to commit suicide. Manoj-Babli honour killing is one of the most talked orders by khap panchayat. Because of the fear of severe punishment, in some old villages young boys and girls are kept separate. Girls and boys have separate school timings. Daughters are married at a very tender age to avoid any kind of mis-happening.
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram commented on khap panchayat by saying that India does not need these anymore as these are very conservative organizations. Whereas former Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal had said that there is nothing wrong in khap panchayat and he feels no need to ban these. These panchayat fulfill the cultural purposes. The Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda called Khap Panchayat as a part of the culture of the state.
The Supreme court of India in 2011 had declared that khap panchayats are not legal and most of the time encourage honour killings. It has also referred Khap panchayats as “kangaroo courts”.
But be it a good or bad, many people blindly follow the rules and justice of Khap panchayats. So recent changes in the marriage related norms are surely pointing towards a good step for the society. We hope to hear more on these lines.