Day 2 of the youth festival at Malwa College Bathinda became a platform for expression of views by Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka.
On a play depicting the menace of female foeticide at the competition, Maluka said that the practice would not end till women stopped raising the demand for dowry.
He added that women could end the practice, if they wanted, but they must refuse to ask for dowry in any manner whatsoever.
"The issue of female foeticide was raised today. A questions was asked that why people kill daughters in the womb. We should concentrate on the real issue that is, why are parents forced to kill their daughters? Nobody talks about it? Only presenting a skit will not help."
He added: "Parents give dowry for the marriage of their daughters, according to their capacity. Who asks for dowry? Women sitting here should not feel offended, but women are the ones who ask for dowry. If women stop asking for dowry, then some troubles will end and people will not need to kill their daughters."
His remark was followed by clapping from the audience that had good number of women, mostly students or teachers.
"Daj Ghran Ch Mangdian hi Bibian Ne. Ke Sanu Tan Aah Kuj Chahida hi Chahida. (Only women insist for dowry in the families, demanding it categorically at every cost," said Maluka.
He added that once daughter-in-laws were not harassed for dowry, female foeticide will not end.
"Girls are leading in every sector. The first 20 positions in almost every competition is often bagged by the girls. So, I will request women to take the oath of not asking for dowry. In fact, you must object even if male member of family is asking for dowry," said Maluka.
He said, "Women ask for dowry in 90% cases. Women make the lists of things for demanding dowry. This leads to female foeticide."
"Things have changed and wives dominate decision making in the new married couples. Husbands do not dominate in case of couples under the age of 40. So your (women) responsibility has increased. Now you have a say in family decisions. Your husband listens to you. So, now it is in your hands to eradicate the evil of dowry from the society."
It will be interesting to observe the reaction of Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal to the statement, as she runs a programme, Nannhi Chhan, against female foeticide.