Hooda mum on action against khaps, say women activists

Marriageable age idea one mans opinion

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was ‘evasive’  when women activists questioned him about taking action against khap panchayats in the state.

Representatives from women’s organisations met him in Chandigarh on Wednesday over the increasing cases of rapes.

“He admitted that the rapes are heinous crimes but was evasive about taking any action against the khaps in Haryana when we informed him about their statements regarding lowering the age of marriageable girls and consensual rape,” said Sudha Sundararaman, general secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association at a press conference held on Thursday.

“He denied that the khaps said this, adding only an individual said it,” she added.
She said that it was only after the group of women who were protesting on Monday refused to go away from Rohtak, did the Haryana CM agree to meet them. The Rohtak district collector had refused to meet them.

Hooda assured activists that the culprits wouldbe punished. But he made no commitment on the activists’ demands.

Guidelines sought

They had demanded guidelines on the standard operation procedure for all police stations that only women police will take victims’ statements, in the presence of lawyers and relatives.

“When we presented our demand for setting up fast track courts for speedy trials, the CM said he has written to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for this purpose,” said Kavita Srivastava from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

Women activists plan to extend the Rohtak protest into a national campaign. They alleged police lathi-charged them, and registered cases against them after the protest.

“When we asked CM Hooda to take back these cases, which charge us with carrying deadly weapons and organising an unlawful gathering, he said he will first analyse the footage and then decide,” said Rajni Tilak from the Center for Alternative Dalit Media.
She added that Hooda refused to accept that more rapes are committed against Dalit women.

Hooda told them that committees are being set up at the district level to monitor crime against women.

These include deputy collector, superintendent of police and other officials who would meet twice a month to expedite cases and supervise like legal aid and rehabilitation of victims.

 “When we proposed that even members from civil rights groups should be included, the CM did not respond,” said Jyotsna Chatterjee from Joint Women Programme.

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