Away from the gleaming skyscrapers and corporate offices of neighbouring Dwarka and Gurgaon, hundreds of men, both young and old, clad mostly in white, sit across a rectangular assembly hall in Najafgarh, southwest Delhi.
They are listening in rapt attention, as speakers talk of India’s ancient culture and customs, the secret to its apparently perfect gene pool and the only way to stop honour killings.
The Sarvajaatiya Sarvakhap Mahapanchayat, a congregation of community caste leaders, was organised at Jharoda village in Najafgarh to deliberate upon “an emerging crisis”, as one of the participating elders described it.
Led by ‘Palam 360’ (comprising 360 villages in Palam, south Delhi) Khap’s Pradhan (head) Ram Karan Solanki, who hosted the Mahapanchayat and its participants, the elders discussed ways to counter the central government’s allegedly “insensitive attitude” towards their age old prohibition on intra-Gotra (the lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth) and intra village marriages.
The Mahapanchayat finally delivered a dire ultimatum to the central government to do the needful by “November 6/7”.
Otherwise, another such congregation would then declare open all options, including violent ones, to oppose same gotra marriages.
One of the speakers was Shamsher Singh, head of Haryana’s Meham Chaubisi Khap, who said, “Jail ho ya bullet, hum peeche nahin hatengey agar bhai aur behen ke pavitra rishtey ko apavitra kiya court, law aur sarkar ne (We will brave bullet and jail, but won’t back down if the court or government disrespects the sacred brother sister relationship).”
He warned, “Agar honour killing rokna ho, jo ki parents dil pe patthar rakh kar kartey hain, toh sarkar ko ek gotra shadiyon ko rigorous aajiwan kaarawas se punish karna hoga (The government will have to punish same gotra marriages with rigorous life sentences, to prevent honour killings, which parents commit with a heavy heart).” Pradhan Rajbala Sharma agreed, “Honour killing is the last resort.”
Asked if she will carry if out if a family member of hers married within his/her gotra, she replied, “I won’t suggest hatya (murder) then.”
About 185 leaders (pradhan) attended the meeting to voice their respective caste community’s support for the “unavoidable need” to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Special Marriage Act to legalise the ban on same Gotra and intra village marriages.
The castes represented at the gathering covered the entire spectrum of the Hindu social hierarchy, from the Valmikis, to upper castes like the Brahmins, Rajputs, Jats, and Gujjars from seven states, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Yudhbir Singh, another speaker, drew the participants’ attention towards the burgeoning conspiracy of Christianity (‘Isaiyat’) for destroying the country's culture and heritage by introducing laws making same-gotra marriages legal. “Our contribution towards the country’s development and security can be ignored only at.
the government’s peril. Punjab and Haryana produce 76 per cent of the country’s food grains, we make up 60 per cent of its infantry,” he said.
‘Pradhan’ Rajendra Chahal defined the social ban on same gotra marriages as the reason why India’s genetic pool was “superior to even that of ‘Amreeka’ (US) and ‘Kaneda’ (Canada).”
Chahal added, “Those who marry within their family become prone to diseases and can be mentally and physically challenged.”