A Khap mahapanchayat in Haryana's Jind district on Saturday with its strong stand against female foeticide and dowry system came as a surprise given that these village bodies have been in the news lately in connection with honour killings and restrictive diktats.
The grand gathering of over 150 khaps came a day after a Baghpat khap panchayat issued Taliban-like orders restricting women under 40 from using cellphones and shopping alone. It had also banned love marriages.
The mahapanchayat that included khaps from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan passed a resolution demanding an amendment in the law to book perpetrators of foeticide for murder. At present, foeticide is punishable by imprisonment for maximum five years.
Seeking support of all khap panchayats of north India, the mahapanchayat constituted an 11-member committee to carry out a concerted drive against foeticide.
Several women khap members attended the meeting that was organised under the aegis of the Haryana Mahakhap Mahapanchayat and the Union ministry of panchayati raj.
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 women.
"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 feoticide could not succeed unless there was a change in the social mindset.
"Let's all eliminate the dowry system, because of which girls are viewed as a burden," said a woman representative.
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 misuse of ultrasound machines for the tests.