Is Khap above law in Haryana to enforce social diktats?

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Chandigarh, Oct 13: Why is Khap in Haryana adamant in changing the law of the land? Reports suggest that members of Haryana's sarv khap mahapanchayat would meet in Sonipat on Saturday, Oct 13.

The Khap members will meet to discuss rising crimes against women in the state and evolve a consensus on its proposal seeking lowering of the marriageable age to check rapes.

Haryana, in the recent times, has witnessed the rise in rape incidents. Around 17 gang-rape cases have been reported from the state in the past month. Members of Khap are insisting that girls should be married off early to check crime against women in the state.

Khap panchayats in the state have come out with a bizarre suggestion that the marriageable age limit should be abolished and girls should be married off as early as possible to decrease incidents of rape.

"Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn 16-year-old, so that they do not stray... this will decrease the incidents of rape," Sube Singh, a Khap representative, had said.

Another Khap member had said, "As soon as the children attain puberty, it is natural for them to have sexual desires but when these are not fulfilled, they stray... so there should not be any minimum age limit for marriage."

Khap suggestion of reducing girls marriageable age from 18 to 16 has been largely opposed by women's rights groups.

Khap has no legal sanction but often function like kangaroo courts and issue social diktats that are enforced in the villages.

Moreover, politicians also don't dare to oppose them as Khap members enjoy great clout among their own community and can influence election results.

Indian National Lok Dal leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala supported Khap's idea and said, "I am with the khap on this issue. This will protect women."

However, after witnessing large-scale protest, Chautala backtracked his comment and said he didn't endorse Khap.

However, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had snubbed such diktats and said that Khap cannot decide law.

"Khap cannot decide law, it is in the hands of the judiciary," Sonia had said.

Now, are we to believe that Khap members are too powerful in Haryana and can enforce medieval laws?

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