Setting a precedent to counter the social evil of female foeticide, a mahapanchayat of over 150 khaps (village bodies) from various parts of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan passed a resolution here on Saturday, demanding an amendment in the Indian Penal Code to book the perpetrators of female foeticide on charges of murder.
At present, those found indulging in female foeticide can be sentenced to a maximum imprisonment of five years.
Seeking support of all the khap panchayats of north India on the issue, the mahapanchayat constituted an 11-member committee headed by Palam-based khap leader Ram Karan Solanki to carry out a concerted drive against female foeticide.
The meeting, organised under the aegis of the Haryana Mahakhap Mahapanchayat, was also attended by several women khap members. Bibipur sarpanch Sunil Jaglan hosted the meeting with the help of the union ministry of panchayati raj.
Among those who attended the meeting were Akhil Bharatiya Jat Mahasabha president Om Prakash Mann, All-India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti president Dharampal Chhot, Dr Attar Lal, a representative of the Attar khap, and leaders of Sangwan, Tanwar, Hooda, Deshwal and other khaps.
The khap leaders spoke against female foeticide and discussed ways to eradicate the social evil. Addressing the assembly, Sarvakhap Mahapanchayat women’s wing head Santosh Dahiya said both men and women were to blame for encouraging female foeticide and suppressing the fair sex. “We have to provide women the right to inherit property if we are to eradicate this social menace,” said Dahiya.
Expressing concern over the skewed sex ratio in Haryana, women residents of Bibipur village said the drive against female feoticide cannot succeed unless there is a change in the social mindset. “The underlying problem is ignorance. Let’s all eliminate the dowry system, because of which girls are viewed as a burden,” they said.
Bimla Vati, a 75-year-old woman, said while doctors should make it a point not to conduct sex determination tests, the government should take effective steps to stop the misuse of ultrasound machines for determining the sex of unborn foetuses.
The media adviser of the union panchayati raj ministry, Uma Iyer, appreciated the initiative taken by the mahapanchayat. Asking people to come forward and report cases of female foeticide, she said the perpetrators of this crime would not be spared.
The mahapanchayat is also being viewed as an attempt to improve the image of Haryana which, at 877, has one of the poorest sex ratios in the country. This is for the first time in Haryana that a meeting of khap panchayats has been convened on such a scale to denounce the inhuman practice.