League Of Honor Killers
By Raja Jaikrishan
12 May, 2010
With municipal polls due on May 20, followed by panchayat polls, both ruling Congress and opposition INLD are out to pamper caste panchayats in Haryana . These caste councils have launched a campaign against same-gotra marriages.
On March 30, a karnal Court awarded death penalty to five persons and sentenced two others, including a Khap leader, to life imprisonment in connection with the honor killing of a same-gotra couple.
The state with 60:40 Jat –Dalit ratio was recently in news for inter –caste violence in Mirchpur village. Here Jats burnt to death a Dalit father and his physically challenged daughter in retaliation to an altercation. The spread of literacy and politicization has changed the traditional power equation in the villages. Dalits are reluctant to take up traditional jobs. Migrants have stepped in their shoes.
In the Mirchpur incident 25 jats were arrested after protests from Dalits. Rahul Gandhi paid visit to the village and went to the house where the father and daughter were burnt alive, to stitching the Dalit support with Congress.
Swami Agnivesh, activist from Haryana, says: “Gotra is lineage sourced to sages i.e Gautam ,Parashar etc.In Haryana gotra names don’t follow this convention. A gotra e.g Tomar is found in Rajputs, Jats and Dalits. How can an inter-caste marriage in this case be an intra -gotra marriage?
Quoting the Satyarthprakash, the Swami adds: “ Swami Dayanand Sarawsati did emphasize the importance of distance in matrimony. The politicians are succumbing to the blackmail of panchayats to ensure vote and support in the ensuing elections. They remain quiet when these kangaroo courts give directions leading to honor killings by family members”.
" Indian National Lok Dal party supports the ban as it is against the tradition and wrong medically. We will bring a proposal in the state assembly. If the government brings in an amendment bill in this regard, we will support it.”
Party chief Om Prakash Chautala said this after giving a memorandum to home minister P Chidambaram seeking changes in the Hindu Marriage Act favoring the ban.
After the Khap panchayats threatened to lay siege to Congress MP Navin Jindal’s Kaithal house, he attended the Sarvjatiya Sarvkhap Mahapanchayat khap on Sunday .
Jindal, an industrialist and MP from Kurukshetra, had sent a letter to representatives of khaps, acknowledging their "yoeman" service rendered to society.
On may 2,Khap panchayats at a meeting at Pai ,near Kathal, had put all elected representatives in the state on a one-month notice to support their demand for amending the Hindu Marriage Act seeking a ban on same gotra marriages.
Jindal letter to the Khaps followed Chautala’s support to the ban on same-gotra marriage and villages. Chautala beat Naveen in the race to take up the Khap demand with the ruling party by giving the memorandum to Chidambaram.
Madu Kishwar, social activist saw a point in the demand of Khap Panchayats seeking ban on same-gotra marriages. She said the Constitution has provided for a personal law for each religious community. The Hindu Marriage Act has a provision, which bars a marriage if it violates local customs of kinship. By taking up the panchayat demand for amendment to the Act Jindal has put the demand on a democratic course.
The mahapanchayat, called against the backdrop of a Karnal court verdict, had thundered last month: “We don’t want a constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition.” As of now, “the Congress stand is clear. No Customary law or practice can possibly be excused or condoned in any manner if it involves killing of any kind in the name of honor, tradition or heritage”.
Jindal’s condemnation of honor killings and support for the ban on same-gotra marriage lays bare the paradox of electoral politics.