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Khaps do a U-turn on early age marriage

Isolated suddenly on the issue of lowering the legal age of marriage for girls, khap panchayats appear to have done a rethink on the demand. HT reports. The retreat

india Updated: Oct 14, 2012 00:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Sube Singh Samain, the president of Samain khap and spokesperson of Sarv khap mahapanchayat said on Saturday that lowering marriage age of girls was his personal opinion not the idea promoted by khap panchayats, in a meeting at Jat Dharamsala.

Commenting on widespread rape incidents, Om Parkash Mann, the president of Jat mahasabha said crime against women especially rapes were a result of obscene content being broadcast by television and published in various magazine and media.

He said that khap panchayats are being targeted by electronic and print media for no fault of theirs and every decision taken by such social panchayats are always shown in poor light by media.

Media should understand that the role of khap panchayats is to preserve the culture, traditions and promote brotherhood in society, not the other way round, he added.

OP Dhankhar, the president of Dhankhar khap criticized the state government for not doing enough to push reforms suggested by khap panchayat in Hindu marriage act, 1955.

He said, "it is our culture to marry our daughters and sisters outside blood and brotherhood relations but nowadays young boys and girls marry within brotherhood by using the law as shield".

Suggesting measures to stop unabated rapes in Haryana, he said, "if such reforms are incorporated in the Hindu Marriage Act, then, rapes number would definitely go down".

Inder Dhull, working president of Dhull khap criticised media of targeting Jat community in recent rape cases and said "criminals don't belong to any community and allegation that criminals belong to the specific community is an attack on the whole community, which is an injustice".

Baljit Malik, president of Gatwala khap said "rapes are not happening only in Haryana, but Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh and Rajasthan are topping the chart in number of rape cases".

He said, "we don't want the judiciary to lower the marriage age of girls, but there should be a provision for parents if their sons or daughters are seen going astray then they can marry them at the age of 16".

"By the age of 16 years, girls' biological development is complete and Haryana has such a food culture that girls attain maturity a bit early," he added.

Defending his opinion on lowering the marriage age of girls, Sube Singh Samain said "as per Hindu Marriage Act, if a girl marries a boy after attaining the age 16 years then the marriage is not invalid but parents can't marry their children before the age of 18 years".

He said that if Law has this provision that girls marriage is not invalid at the age of 16 years and it should also incorporate the provision for marrying the girls at the age of 16 years.

Santosh Dahiya, president of women wing of khap panchayat and professor in Kurukshetra University slammed Sonia Gandhi of calling the Khap panchayats unconstitutional, she said, "khaps are there to solve problems of society and they have always played proactive role in solving complex problems though dialogues".

She said that 90% of social problems are solving at the helm of khap panchayats, which need to be appreciated and media must restrain before making any allegations on such social organisations.

Nafe Singh Nain, president of sarv khap mahapanchayat said, "to discuss the issue further we would call a meeting of all community mahapanchayat and take opinion of other representatives and would pass a resolution on this issue".

First Published: Oct 13, 2012 17:02 IST