With khap panchayats on the loose, caste rigidities holding their sway, and few cracks in the patriarchal order, falling in love can be dangerous in 21st century Haryana.
To protect young men and women on the run from their own families hell bent on avenging their lost "honour", the Haryana administration opened a protection home for such couples in each of the state's 21 districts.
Now, the police in the state's Panipat district have proposed to provide temporary employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) to runaway couples staying under police protection.
The district administration has reportedly agreed to the proposal, and modalities are being worked out to grant special sanction to couples for working under the scheme in nearby villages.
Under the MNREGS, villagers are guaranteed work or financial compensation for 100 days in a year.
Panipat superintendent of police Pankaj Nain told Hindustan Times on Monday that runaway couples staying at police shelter homes often find themselves short of money for day-to-day needs.
The police normally bear the cost of their stay.
"Now, we have planned to provide a work-and-pay-for-their-stay scheme in the district," Nain said. "As per the direction of the Punjab and Haryana high court, runaway couples can avail free accommodation for 10 days and beyond that they have to pay for their stay."
He said it had been observed that couples often stayed for more than two months because they felt unsafe.
He said if couples agreed to resume work at places of their choice, the district police would provide them full protection.