There’s a khap panchayat next to your house

So when he khap panchayats of Haryana got Kurukshetra MP Navin Jindal to air their views to the Parliament, as he likes to put it, the story became simpler. Now it was one individual (Jindal) vs. modern India. Now it was an educated babalog neta letting us down. How could you? Now one didn’t have to enagage with the khap panchayats themselves. It could now be given more ai time and column space than when the khap panchayats were getting same-gotra couples killed.

Now, a ‘section’ of the Arya Samaj in Haryana says it won’t allow Arya Samaj temples to be used for marriage of same-gotra couples, or for any marriage without the consent of not only both sets of parents but also the entire village. Outrage is in order, though perhaps “shocker” is not a great word.

Haryana is not far from Delhi, but the media portrayal of the story sounds like we are talking about another world – the word medieval is used ad nauseaum. Well, at least 4,810 times the last I Googled. The word medieval is typical of the portrayal of the Jat khap panchayats and their campaign against same-gotra marriages as distant, as something that doesn’t belong to our modern social milieu. It happens in some village in Haryana which has never been visited by the TG (Target Group) of our news channel, paper or magazine.

An editor with The Pioneer tweets: “Decent society should shame and shun moron called Naveen Jindal. Indecent society should strip and chase him to netherworld of khaapis.” Poor Navin Jindal, you can see he doesn’t believe in what he is saying but if he has to win the next election from Haryana he has to say it.

Further, on the Arya Samaj issue, again the editor makes it out to be about just an individual: “Arya Samaj should expel Baldev and his thugs.”

The problem here is that not marrying within the gotra is very common and widespread, and when the marriage is arranged, or even when it is not, parents do take care of it. Across north India, couples elope and find shelter in feminist-run NGO organisations (who for the purposes of the TG are to be derisively described as jholawallahs) and often run for their lives. Honour killing is not a rarity even if the media has convinced us that a middle class family in Noida did not do so in the recent past.

So here’s the real “shocker”: 65% in urban Chandigarh shares the view of the khap panchayats. Go figure. Discover a whole new world where your TG is not what you thought. Your TG is against same-gotra marriage even if they, and you, claim you don’t know your caste, let alone gotra.

6 thoughts on “There’s a khap panchayat next to your house”

  1. Well said, Shivam. I have for some time been wanting to write on the use of this word ‘medieval’ – the way it has been used with reference to the khap panchayats lately. There is something truly fascinating in the way this term is used to refer to practices by a section of illiterates in the media – no academic worth her salt will ever use these terms now. This usage is based on an equally ‘archaic’ ‘nineteenth centuryism’ – a notion of ‘time’ that came to have its high noon on the twentieth century. Its sun set long time ago. There are people who (if one adopts their language) still live in the twentieth century:)


  2. Is the Politics of Identity is ‘maturing’ in India to take its toll on women’s rights, democratic rights, Individual’s Constitutional Rights so on and so forth?.
    Invite you all to read this article League Of Honor Killers written by Raja Jaikrishan.

    “..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…”

    This is how Madhu Kishwar,author of the famous article ‘Why I am Not a Feminist’ and editor of Manushi,Journal for Women AND the Society, finds in Jindal & the Khap Panchayats putting the Hindu Marriage Act to a democratic course!
    By Madhu Kishwar’s logic, if the community issues a ‘fatwa’ against an individual daring to exercise his legal choice in marriage, love or partnership in sex, and it decides to punish him or her, that would rather be a sign of initiating a ‘democratic process’ suited to the communal identity, than any barbaric act of atrocity. Passing a new set of laws or even amending the constitution in order to legalize the majoritarian brutality would be okey by these people. Hate promoting and blood thirsty demands in the name of the concerned identity/ community need not pass any international tests of human rights standard. Further, the constitution and the laws will be rendered just colonial vestiges suitable only to slaves, which are anathema to the true upholders of identities who would rather take pride in cast than annihilate it in the Ambedkarian sense. For the ‘new’ kind of ‘democracy’, colonial and alien values (read constitutional) should be replaced by values honoring identities( read pre-Hindu Code Bill values or Castiest values or Khap Panchayat values or Post/Pre Modern values,as you please!).


  3. A quote from a recent article on the topic:

    “..The daughter’s body is, literally, the porous border of caste purity – and must be policed carefully to prevent infiltration. The daughter’s act of choosing her own partner causes terror in the custodians of caste society. No wonder she is compared to a ‘bomb’! Incidentally and interestingly, it is ironic to see participants in the debate over the caste census argue that ideally, caste should be done away with ‘except in matters of marriage’! Is it really possible that they fail to realise that marriage and the control of female sexuality thereby is central to the maintenance of the caste system, and that we cannot claim to have rendered caste irrelevant until caste is done away with in matters of marriage?!.. ”
    [Kavita Krishnan]


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