M A I N   N E W S

Efforts on to rehabilitate Sonia
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Asanda, October 22
As Sonia prepares to be discharged from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak in a couple of days, efforts are being made in this dusty hamlet to create conditions congenial for her to be accepted socially.

To begin with, a dialogue has been initiated with prominent members of the Dahiya khap to rescind the khap’s 40-year-old decision banning marriages between Dahiyas and Rathis. Sonia’s husband Rampal belongs to the Dahiya gotra. The suggestion for this had come from none other than Dharam Singh, who headed the two panchayats on the Sonia issue during the past fortnight.

Another significant development is the appeal issued by the All-India Jat Mahasabha to leaders of khaps concerned to ensure the safety of Sonia and Rampal in the village once they returned here. The apex Jat body reminded the panchayats that their job was to “reunite and rebuild” rather than “separate and ostracise”.

The mahasabha discussed the Sonia issue at its Delhi meeting and advised the panchayats to exercise restraint in such matters. It also appealed to the panchayats not to meddle in the marital life of the couple.

Already many other social organisations are actively trying to ensure Sonia’s rehabilitation. These include the Janwadi Mahila Samiti, Sampuran Kranti Manch, Kisan Sabha and the Nagrik Manch. Leaders of these organisations met Dharam Singh last evening at the nearby Baproda village. The group included several respected intellectuals of Haryana, including Mr D. R. Chaudhry, Dr Khazan Singh and Prof Suraj Bhan.

They agreed with Dharam Singh that a solution must be found at the social level to ensure that Sonia and Rampal lived happily. Dharam Singh’s suggestion that Dahiya khap chief Ramphal be involved in this exercise found favour with the group.

The villagers are reconciled to the fact that Sonia and Rampal will have to be allowed to live in the village because any opposition will attract legal action. At the same time, the social organisations are trying to rule out the possibility of social boycott of the couple. Rampal’s family too is actively involved in the exercise.

A visit by The Tribune to the village revealed that the only objection the Rathis now have is that while a Dahiya boy (Rampal) has married a Rathi girl (Sonia), a Rathi still cannot marry a Dahiya girl because of a ban imposed by the Dahiyas themselves. The general refrain is that if the Dahiyas allow such marriages in the future, Sonia and Rampal will have no problem whatsoever. It appears more of an ego problem now than any real opposition to Sonia’s marriage. This is where Dahiya khap chief Ramphal comes into the picture.

Meanwhile, doctors attending on Sonia at the PGIMS in Rohtak said she could be discharged as early as Sunday, depending on her condition. They said at present she was under observation rather than undergoing treatment. The extra precaution was necessary because she had a history of abortions, they said.

Sonia’s family has yet to make up its mind about whether to take her directly to Asanda after she leaves the hospital or to let her stay at Merhana village with her sister-in-law Sheela.

The women seem to favour the Merhana option to avoid any more stress on her. Sonia, though, is keen on going to Asanda. “That is where my home is and that is where I rightly belong to. But I will go by the advice of the elders,” she said, adding that she would not like to derail the reconciliation process.

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