M A I N   N E W S

Accept husband as brother, woman told
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Asanda (Jhajjar), October 11
One and a half years after marriage and three months pregnant, a happily married young woman has been directed by a Gotra Khap panchayat to dissolve her marriage and accept her husband as a brother. The woman, Sonia, responded contemptuously to the panchayat dictat saying “I will prefer death”.

The decision by a khap panchayat of three villages – Asanda, Baproda and Kharhar – is based on the suspicion that Sonia belonged to the Rathi gotra and a marriage between Rathi and Dahiya gotras was not socially acceptable. Sonia though claims that she belongs to Hooda gotra.

Sonia hails from Kiloi village. Her father, Mr Satvir Singh, is a police employee. He uses the surname of Hooda. Rampal, on the other hand, belongs to the Dahiya gotra and his family lives here. The two had a long love affair before their marriage. Sonia’s family was initially opposed to the marriage but Rampal’s family had no objections.

According to the villagers, for 15 long months nobody objected to the marriage. But the Rathi Khap leaders became active about three months ago and tried to prevail upon Rampal and Sonia to dissolve the marriage and accept each other as brother and sister. When these attempts failed, the Rathi Khap leaders convened a panchayat. Strangely, the khap leaders are attributing their delayed response to “confusion over whether Sonia belonged to the Hooda or Rathi gotra.

The panchayat yesterday told Rampal and his family that marriages between members of the Rathi and Dahiya gotras were socially unacceptable. As such Rampal and Sonia should dissolve their marriage and accept each other as brother and sister. Sonia’s pleas that she came from a Hooda family were ignored by the panchayat.

Nevertheless, the panchayat directed Rampal to give Sonia a shagun of Rs 10 as a token of his acceptance of their new relationship as “brother and sister”. Sonia refused to accept the shagun. She appeared before the panchayat and pleaded ferociously with them to reverse its decision. When the panchayat ignored all her pleas, Sonia told them that she would prefer to die rather than accept Rampal as brother. She openly rebuked Rampal for yielding to the panchayat at the cost of his “wife and unborn child”.

Amidst confusion, Sonia was sent to Marhana village, near here, along with Rampal’s sister who is married there. Incidentally, Rampal’s sister was instrumental in arranging the court marriage.

Rampal’s mother, Ms Moorti Devi, is reluctant to accept the panchayat’s decision. She told The Tribune today that she was very fond of Sonia and wanted her back. She said her gotra was in a minority in the area and the panchayat was forcing its decision on her family.

Rampal said he accepted the panchayat decision reluctantly to avoid bloodshed since the village was dominated by the Rathi gotra and his defiance of the panchayat would not have been tolerated.

Meanwhile, some elders are trying to reconvene the panchayat and ask it to ascertain the gotra of Sonia. It is learnt that Sonia’s father did not attend the panchayat since he was opposed to her marriage to Rampal.

Incidentally, this is second incident of its kind in the area. Years ago a khap panchayat had given a similar directive to a family in Jiondhi village. However, the family refused to abide by it and chose to shift from the village to settle in a far away place.

Police officials say so far they had not received any complaint in this regard. 

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