For the first time, the hookah-loving khaps of Haryana will sit with research scholars from the country's top universities and debate on honour killings.
Five months after the "honour" killing of a runaway couple at Garnawati village near here, the Meham Chaubishi khap, an umbrella organisation of all khaps (community councils) in the state, will break its silence and organise a brainstorming session on the issue on January 29.
The khap has invited research scholars from Delhi University, Panjab University, Gauhati University (Assam) and Jamia Millia Islamia for their views on khaps and the controversies they court for their diktats on social issues.
Confirming this, Tulsi Grewal, self-styled chief of Meham Chaubishi khap, said: "Representatives of various khaps, intellectuals, youngsters, women and research scholars will participate in the event." Defending khaps, he said he was pained to see the social bodies with much influence in Haryana being portrayed as "killing agents".
The khaps from Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are also expected during the session at Chaubishi Chabutara in Rohtak's neighbouring Meham town. In September 2012, Dharmender and Nidhi Barak of Garnawati village of the district were killed by their parents for defying the norm of marrying in the same gotra. Marrying in the same gotra and village is taboo here.
In July 2012, a similar khap panchayat at Bibipur village of Jind district received praise from all quarters for vowing to fight female foeticide. However, the committee formed then did not carry forward its awareness campaigns in the state, though the state government had extended a help of `1crore.
Nogama khap representative and sarpanch of Bibipur village Sunil Jaglan, who plays a key role in the khaps' meeting, said: "The event is an attempt to clean the negative image of khap bodies in the media. Things would be different after this event when a national panel of khaps will be formed to take up the issues and fix accountability for delivering results."