Khaps work on their bad image, woo womenfolk

Khaps work on their bad image, woo womenfolk

May seek their views before issuing harsh diktats

The ‘conservative’, and ‘dreaded’ khap panchayats, which shocked the country with their controversial and ‘insensitive’ rulings on religious and social issues, especially the diktats on women, seem to be in an image makeover exercise.

According to reports, efforts are being made to persuade the panchayats to accept a proposal making it mandatory for them to ‘take into confidence the elder women’ of the village before taking a decision on issues related to women.

“The proposal will be sent to the chiefs of all the 360 khaps in the country for their consideration and acceptance'', said Subhash Baliyan, secretary of the Sarva Khap (all khap) of Souram, a jat dominated village in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district, about 450 kilometers from Lucknow.

“The proposal also envisages giving an opportunity to the woman to put forward her side of the story before the panchayat arrives at any decision on the matter,” he said.The Sarva Khap represents all the 360 khaps in the country and is considered to be a powerful body. 

The individual Khaps would elect leaders who would send delegates to the Sarv Khap to represent their khap, a political organisation composed of all the clans, communities, and castes in the region.

The Sarva Khap’s decision assumes significance in the wake of the uproar over a diktat of a panchayat in Baghpat district banning love marriages and use of cell phones by women under 40 and their going to the markets without an escort.

Baliyan said he would put forward his proposal at the forthcoming meeting at Asara village in Baghpat.

“We have also decided to launch an awareness campaign among the villages about female foeticide. we will take the help of the khaps in this campaign,” he said and noted that the adverse sex ratio was a matter of concern and needed urgent attention.

At the same time, the Sarva Khap’s move also indicates its efforts make the ‘diktats’ acceptable after an all women panchayat in Muzaffarnagar district had decried attempts by the men to impose their will on women.

The women said they were fully familiar with their cultural traditions and did not need anyone else to educate them. 

“We know well how to live in the society and no one should try to impose his will on us,” said Sohan Veeri, the chief of Bhartiya Kisan Union's women wing.

Meanwhile, the ‘khap’ leaders have decided to hold a ‘mahapanchayat’ (grand council meeting) at Baghpat on Friday to solicit support from other communities and implement the diktats in other parts of the state.

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