Panchayat's diktat has no place in democratic society: Chidambaram

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here Friday that the "Taliban-style" diktat by a khap panchayat in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat region, forbidding women from using cell phones, going to the market or walking unescorted, "has no place in a democratic society".

"I would expect the state government to take action," Chidambaram said here, addressing a press conference. 

Answering a query about the diktat, Chidambaram said, "Such diktats have no legal authority and the state authorities should ensure that no one comes to harm for, quote unquote, violating the diktat".

He said such kind of diktats, or fatwas "according to me, have no place in a democratic society... I don't think anyone can say how people should dress and behave, it is completely undemocratic".

The Asaara panchayat in Baghpat Thursday set out a series of rules for women under 40 -- that they should cover their heads, not use mobile phones, not leave the house after sunset. It also banned the entry of couples who had a love marriage. 

On Friday, the panchayat members beat up two policemen over the arrest of two of their members for issuing the diktat.

The policemen had gone to Asaara village after senior officials dispatched a team to probe the matter.

The policemen were brutally attacked and their motorcycle set on fire. The villagers fled after freeing the arrested panchayat members, a police official said.

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