An assembly of 36 self-styled caste councils on Tuesday vowed to fight for the seven people convicted - five of them sentenced to death - by a Karnal court for their roles in an honour killing.
Representatives from the caste-based councils, or Khap Panchayats, from Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi, demanded that the Hindu Marriage Act be amended to ban marriages within the same sub-castes, or gotras.
In 2007, a Khap council ordered the killing of Manoj (23) and Babli (19), who got married despite having been from the same sub-caste. Later, their bodies were thrown into a canal. The Karnal court gave life sentence to the head of the Khap on March 30, 2010.
Several speakers said the authorities should not interfere in centuries-old traditions, as social norms were above the law. Less than a dozen women members were also present at the meeting, while the number of males was more than 2,000.
The grand assembly, held in this Haryana town, 84 km from Chandigarh, also decided to collect Rs 10 each from all people who were part of any Khap to fight the cases in higher courts. Former Haryana Police chief M.S. Malik, said, “We don’t want a Constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition. We feel strongly against the media for naming Khaps, accepted for the last 3,000 years, as Talibani Panchayats.”
The Khap leaders also decided to hold another grand assembly, chaired by Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikiat) leader Mahinder Singh Tikait on May 23, at Jind.
Later, hundreds of khap members blocked the Kuruk-shetra-Hisar road and the police had to be called.