Tackling khaps – Rajasthan shows the way

THE TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

KHAP panchayats have the blood of many innocent victims on their hands. They have exiled boys and girls who married in the same gotra or out of caste or religion. They have ordered the social boycott of the families of such lovers and have even ordered, aided and abetted their “honour killings”. Yet they have never been reined in effectively because politicians see them as dependable vote banks. States like Haryana have even gone to the extent of condoning all that the khaps did and defending them as centuries-old groups which play a charitable role. In this bleak scenario, the lead taken by Rajasthan is worth emulating. It has become the first of the nine states to reply to the Supreme Court as to what measures it proposes to take to curb the khap menace. It has said in no uncertain terms that it won’t tolerate any unwarranted diktats coming from khap panchayats.

The state government has directed every SHO to immediately register FIRs against the perpetrators and even detain them under the National Security Act of 1980. Not only that, its pathbreaking affidavit says that if the police receives information about the khap panchayat torturing a couple from sources other than official, top echelons of the district would be held responsible.

If a government really wants it, the menace of khaps can be easily curbed. It is all a question of displaying political will. But more than Rajasthan, it is states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi which have to show the necessary spine. After all, these account for nearly 96 per cent of the reported honour crimes in the country. Of the 121 honour killings in the past two years, as many as 48 took place in Uttar Pradesh and 41 in Haryana. It is high time they acknowledged that khap panchayats are extra-constitutional groupings which have no place in a civilised society and need to be hounded out ruthlessly.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101020/edit.htm#1

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