Guard our honour where it matters
Gandhi’s vision of India was certainly not divided on casteist and communal lines. His open support of Harijans – considered as God’s lesser children was proof enough that just how much the father of the nation despised the archaic caste system prevalent in this country. But in independent India, his dreams were forgotten by regional leaders and the patriarchal as also the parochial Khap Panchayats in Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan, were given impetus to take decisions at will, some of which included- honour killing of those found to be in love or making a rape victim marry her rapist with the logic that no one could touch her defiled body other than the rapist who took turns to outrage her modesty completely. It is undeniable that Khaps, as also other local village bodies which are extremely communal in outlook have never felt the need of the protectors of law. They take their own decisions and also ensure that their diktats are carried out in totality. But as the famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus suggests that change is the only constant, Khaps should begin to count their numbered days. In a modern society like India there is no place for their demonic verdicts and their unscrupulous and anarchist mindsets. In almost an unprecedented flow of support, 21 Indian states have joined hands to empower the Centre to bring legislation against honour killings.
No one can deny that history is in the making. Nobody wants any more executions and nobody also wants to live under the fear of a masochist thought process, as the Khaps advocate. Falling in love is no crime but extending unabated support to Khap Panchayats to carry these gruesome and horrific murders in the name of family reputation for want of petty votes certainly is. Almost every day, newsprint is replete with at least with one story of how a Khap Panchayat uses its unconstitutional powers to get someone killed for bringing disrepute to the family he or she belongs to. In lands where sex ratio falls way short for want of a boy child, Khap Panchayats further ensure that this marginalisation against the girl child continues. The Law Commission should be applauded for having drafted the proposed bill in 2012. To ban the Khaps is not only relevant but is also necessary. In a country which is governed by a set of laws called the Constitution, it becomes a matter of deep consternation that Khaps have been allowed to function even after 64 years of the adoption of the laws of the land. The quantum of sentence should and must be the harshest in the country. A message needs to be given out: There is no place for mass murderers and criminal intimidators in this country. Young and old people alike cannot be left at the whims and fancies of bodies which question the very idea of synthesis of the society.
A stand needs to be taken and it is significant that better sense has prevailed in Punjab, Haryana and UP, three Indian states which had initially opposed a central legislation against honour killings. The NDA government of Narendra Modi should now work towards eliminating these bodies for once and for all and the UPA should learn how to make a group of ministers accountable and also bear unanimity on killings which defy logic. This is Gandhi’s India and extermination of body, soul and voice will not be tolerated.