Khap: India has better business than to care its under-privileged

The husband of Mamta Bai, a 25-year old resident of Notara Bhopat village, Rajasthan betrayed her and eloped with his neighbour’s wife and his two children. The neighbour Rajendra Meghwal approached a caste panchayat with a request to allow him to ‘keep’ Mamta Bai, or to get a monetary damages of three lakhs from her. Khap panchayat ordered Mamta Bai to obey either of these options, for which the lady has approached police.

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This incident reportedly pictures a man, who dares to approach a ruling administration with a request to ‘keep’ a lady with him, as if she is an object that he can buy. There is also a ruling system, which supported him and ordered the lady to obey him. In a country, where violence against women and women empowerment are primary topics of debate, it’s atrocious to know that the Government still allows such incidents to happen repeatedly.

This is not the first time that Khap panchayat is coming under the scrutiny of public for reinforcing conservative attitudes and thoughtless ruling among the villages. Lately, they have emerged as quasi-judicial bodies, imposing punishments like honour killing for inter caste marriages. Nobody would have forgotten an incident occurred in Haryana, where a Khap panchayat in the state said ‘girls should be married off early in order to avoid rapes’, as a response to a gang-rape of a Dalit girl. In Uttar Pradesh, Khap panchayats ruled against women carrying mobile phones or wearing western attire.

The rules of Khap are based on a notion of brotherhood. This cluster of villages, united by caste (gotra/clan) and geography believes that the boys and girls within a Khap are siblings. Hence, they deny any attempt for a boy and girl to get married within a Khap. Social boycotts, fines, forcing to commit suicides and many such harsh writs are implemented by Khaps. The question of women’s right is totally unheard within the territory ruled by Khap. To make matters worse, people keep an unquestionable belief in the justice pronounced by Khap.

Isn’t it high time that our judiciary and Government raise their voice against this? Why does a quasi-judicial system that denies justice to people still exists in the country? The answer is still unknown. However, prima-facie, it’s purely a sheer negligence in the part of panchayats and politicians that allow Khaps to run amok. It is our biased attitude towards privileged or relatively-privileged people that make us comfortable to forget the issues of villages. This incident would have created a huge outcry with mass protests and media debates, if happened to a lady residing in the city. But, of course, it happened for a lady in the village, and they are supposed to bear these. We have better business than caring the problems of under-privileged.

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