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Jat leaders protest against government stand on Khap traditions

By Nairita Das

New Delhi, July 27 (ANI): Elderly members of the Khap launched a mass agitation here on Monday against the central government's decision to enact a law to ban their council's community-related norms and allied dictums.

They reiterated their united stand to combat the governments' plan to prohibit the council's directives and curb incidents of honour killings in the Jat community.

"We want to tell that every community residing in this region is against it (proposed legislation questioning locus-standi of Khap Panchayat), this was the main motive behind this meeting. Secondly, the government's take on the Khap that it will be banned and prosecuted, it is a mistake on the part of the government," said Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary, All India Jat Mahasabha.

There has been a spurt of honour killings reported in recent times, allegedly ordered by regional Khap Panchayats at various places in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

However, on this aspect, the Khap Panchayat members asserted that the council has never been party to such acts of violence, in contrast to the honour killings attributed to the community elders' notions on Gotra (social clan and family lineage).

"We have told many times before that the Khap Panchayat does not issue diktats. Khap Panchayat always works for the good of the society and never takes a wrong decision," said Ram Singh Solanki, a Khap Panchayat functionary.

Under the present legal system, anyone participating in a Khap Panchayat could at best be roped in for being a party to the conspiracy that generally attracts a maximum punishment ranging from five years to a life term.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had sought a response from the central government and eight states including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand on the honour killing issue.

The apex court directed the authorities to explain measures being taken to prevent such heinous crimes.

Khap is a cluster of villages united by caste and geography. Its origins go back to the 14th century. It was started by upper caste Jats to consolidate their power and positions.

The main rule of a Khap is that boys and girls within a group of villages are considered siblings, and any violation of this compromises the community's honour and tradition, uniting punitive action.

Such action can include social boycott, imposition of fines, and in extreme cases, killing or forcing the guilty to commit suicide. (ANI)

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