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HC stops Jat Mahapanchayat
Inter-caste marriage in Bhiwani
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 9
Taking strong note of the unlawful and unconstitutional activities of self-styled representatives of the Jats, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the district administration of Bhiwani not to allow the proposed Mahapanchayat of representatives of the community from 84 villages in Bhiwani district of Haryana to be held on June 11.

The vacation Bench headed by Mr Justice K.S. Garewal has also ordered that complete protection of a newly-wed couple and their respective families be ensured.

This order was passed on the petition filed by Surinder Kumar of Kharkari village in Bhiwani district. The self-styled leaders of the Jat community had been making life difficult for Surinder and his wife as they had married out of their respective castes. While the boy belongs to the cobbler caste, the girl belonged to the Jat community.

Highlighting his and his family’s plight, the boy had sought directions to the district administration and the police to safeguard their lives and rights.

In his petition, Surinder had stated that he got married to Poonam of Dhaman village in Sonepat district at a ceremony held in the girl’s village in May. Both families were present in the ceremony. The girl’s father, Mr Kishan Kumar, is a Subedar in the Indian Army.

While Surinder is employed with a private sector bank, Poonam is a trained staff nurse. Both were in love with each other for sometime before getting married.

Trouble began, when the bridegroom brought his wife to his native village in Bhiwani. On coming to know that he had married an upper-caste girl, the self-styled representatives of the Jat community of the village held a panchayat and questioned the marriage.

They issued a diktat to both families to dissolve the marriage or face consequences.

Refusing to bow before the unlawful pressure being put on them, the newly-weds went to Bhiwani to get the marriage registered. However, there, Poonam was allegedly forcibly picked up by members of her caste and taken away. The boy and others who were accompanying him were also beaten up.

Even though an FIR was got registered on May 23, no action was reportedly taken by the police and the girl was not united with her husband.

In fact, the petition says she might have been forcibly married off to a member of her caste.

Thereafter, on May 25, Jats of nine villages held a panchayat at Singani village(Bhiwani), in which over 6,000 persons were reportedly present. The girl’s father was also summoned to the panchayat and told to dissolve the marriage.

Here, the boy’s family was directed to return all the dowry items and also foot the expenses of the panchayat.

Still not satisfied, a maha panchayat was also ordered to be convened on June 11, where a decision about the future course of action against the members of the cobbler caste residing in the boy’s village was to be taken.

The case is yet another instance of high-handedness by co-called guardians of the caste system. In his particular case, the self-styled leaders of the Jat community were making life miserable for the entire cobbler community as a boy of their community had dared to marry a Jat girl.

Not only had the self-styled custodians of the community forcibly separated the couple, the girl had also been allegedly forced to marry another boy of her own community.

Apparently not satisfied with the punishment meted out to the boy and his family, the Jats had told them to leave their houses and go away from the village.

Surprisingly, the district’s civil and police administration did not wake up to the situation and allowed it to worsen. This is not the first such case in Haryana.

Earlier also, it was the High Court that had intervened to safeguard the lives of the weaker sections facing the wrath of the influential, powerful higher class.

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