Most khap panchayats may be caught in a medieval time warp but one such village council in Haryana is fighting against the stereotype — not only by working against female foeticide and dowry but also going digital, launching a website.
The Kajla khap panchayat’s site vows to fight for inter-caste marriage and against alcohol abuse, a far cry from the usual diktats of the controversial village courts that stop women from carrying mobile phones, wear jeans and regularly order “honour killings” for disobeying community orders.
The powerful councils have governed villages for centuries, acting as de-facto courts for millions, but are increasingly unpopular among the youth. The website will help in making them familiar with their customs, believe members.
“People from all age groups are hooked to the internet through mobile phones and computers, so we decided to launch a website to inculcate brotherhood. We will also use the website for social auditing of the Kajla khap and invite suggestions,” said 74-year-old Rajmal Kajal, the brain behind the exercise.
Members of the khap are present in 14 districts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, besides a large number in central Asia, the website said.
Khap representatives, however, condemn inter-gotra (sub-caste) marriages with their national president Suraj Bhan Kajal telling HT they would write to the President and parliamentarians to introduce amendments in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in accordance to cultural traditions.
“We strongly disapprove of cases where a married couple, who violated social norms, were punished and labelled as brothers and sisters,” said Kajal, a former Indian National Lok Dal MLA.