Historic decision

Haryana’s Satrol khap panchayat has made history with a landmark decision on marriage. It has lifted its opposition to inter-caste marriage in villages under its control.

This will mean that couples belonging to different castes can get married without fear of incurring the wrath of the village as has been the case for centuries.

Hitherto, inter-caste marriage was forbidden by caste rules imposed by khap panchayats, often violently. 

The recent decision will be welcomed by those keen to marry outside their caste.

It has the potential to usher in social change, as well.  Inter-caste marriage will break caste barriers.

Since the Satrol khap panchayat is Haryana’s largest, its decision could influence other panchayats.

That several khap panchayats have applauded its decision is heartening. They must follow this up with action.

Alongside allowing inter-caste marriages, the Satrol khap panchayats has also given the green signal to inter-village marriages.

Hitherto, people were not allowed to marry within a radius of 42 villages. They can do so henceforth.

However, people of the same village will not be allowed to marry as are those of the same gotra.

Objection to consanguineous marriage is understandable to some extent given the risks of genetic defects in offspring but a same-gotra marriage cannot be regarded as intra-family any longer given the fact that a gotra today includes millions of people. 

It must be noted however that the Satrol khap’s new mantra does not stem from any social awakening or change in the outlook of its members.

Rather it is a response to adversity. Female foeticide is rampant in Haryana and has resulted in a precipitous fall in the number of girls.

This has forced men to look for brides outside Haryana.

Unhappy with its youth marrying outside the region, the panchayat decided to allow inter-caste marriage and inter-village marriage.

Thus while it is allowing inter-caste marriage, its retrograde outlook remains in place.

Worryingly, the panchayat has announced that couples must seek the permission of their parents before they marry.

Khap panchayats are illegal entities and are notoriously patriarchal and feudal in their mindset.

The Satrol khap panchayat’s decision to allow inter-caste marriage underscores their potential for ushering in change.

Reforming rather than rejecting khap panchayats maybe the way we need to deal with them. It could prove more rewarding.

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