Khap diktat outrages, activists want govt action

Reacting to the decision of a khap panchayat [community council] in an Uttar Pradesh village - banning love marriages and restricting movement of women out of homes - women politicians and activists Friday came down hard on the feudal outfits, saying 'they do not have any legal recognition'.

The activists urged the government to motivate people to reject the diktats of such panchayats.

'Khap panchayats do not have constitutional power. Therefore, they have no right to make such laws. We are living in the 21st century and when such incidents take place, it is ironical,' Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women [NCW], told reporters.

'The government should take some action and tell the people not to accept what these panchayats say,' Sharma added.

Among various diktats pronounced by a khap panchayat Thursday in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district, women in the Asaara village were asked to cover their heads before leaving homes.

Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] leader Nirmala Sitharaman pitched for action from the government.

'The diktat that women should cover their head and cannot use mobile phones, all this is wrong,' Sitharaman said, talking to reporters here.

'Wherever such things happen, government should take action immediately,' she said.

Brinda Karat, politburo member of the Communist Party of India [Marxist], added that the caste panchayats are entirely 'illegal' in existence.

'Caste panchayats are self-declared bodies which have nothing to do with the framing of laws. All the fatwas, diktats and farmans [orders] directed by them are illegal,' Karat said.

Villagers at the community gathering in Asaara village declared that couples who opt for love marriages would be ex-communicated.

The women activists demanded action from the government to motivate people to boycott the hardliners who came up with such diktats.

'Such panchayats have no existence in law and there is no point in agreeing to what they say,' said Girija Vyas, Congress leader and member of parliament.

'Government should come forward and tell the people that there is a constitution. And such panchayats have no identity before it,' Vyas told a news channel.


Amid national outrage over the panchayat's Taliban-style diktat against women, defiant villagers Friday thrashed two policemen for arresting two of the panchayat members. Two policemen who had gone to the village, about 450 km from here, were attacked and their motorcycle set on fire, an official said. The villagers fled after freeing the arrested panchayat members. The village also vented its ire at the media. Panchayat members asked camera crew and journalists to back off or face their ire, a police officer said, adding that arrangements were being made to ensure law and order.

Inspector General of Police Badri Prasad Singh said the ruling of the panchayat was unfair and unconstitutional. 'The guilty would be brought to book and punished,' Singh said. He vowed to take action against those who attacked police personnel.
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